Citizens of the European Union may use the first instrument of participatory democracy ever on a transnational level
Brussels, June 6 (DP.net).─ The Treaty of Lisbon introduced the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI). It provides that "not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties." (Article 11.4 TEU) This was an important first step towards participatory democracy in Europe.
On Sunday, April 1st 2012, the European Commission started accepting requests to register proposed initiatives. This was the essential first step before citizens were able to start collecting statements of support.
The European Parliament approved on 22 May 2012 an amendment of the Parliament's Rules of Procedure devised for the ECI tool box to be functional. From now on successful ECIs will be invited by the European Parliament for a public hearing.
The new Rule 197a, Public hearings on citizens' initiatives, establishes that the hearings will be held and organized by the Committee in charge (the committee that regularly deals with the issue raised in the ECI) jointly with the Committee on Petitions (the committee in the EP that is charged and most used to treating the citizens concerns, requests and wishes).
The Commission will attend all these hearings at the highest possible level. This is crucial as the Commission is the addressee of every ECI - and it is up to the Commission to take legal action in the end, when the ECI is considered admissible and appropriate to provide a legal act.
Citizens of Europe have now a new and powerful tool of democracy in their hands.
[ Text of the Ammendment ]