The European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) is an instrument of Participatory Democracy within the European Union, allowing European citizens to collect signatures to propose legislation to the European Commission on matters where the EU has competence to legislate. These initiatives need at least one million signatures of EU citizens living at least in 7 of the 28 member states.
These proposals usually include a request to present them to the voters in referendum.The rules to propose these initiatives may be read at the European Commission's WEB pages containing the Official register of the ECI → HERE
The Participatory Democracy Cultural Initiative (PDCI) has consistently supported these goals through initiatives sponsored by Democracy International (DI) and other democratic organizations. We advocate and promote participatory democracy since 2003 and we support direct democracy whenever it is important to consult the people on issues of their concern.
However, we believe that participatory democracy should function within the boundaries of the subsidiarity principle. This Principle is defined in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. It aims to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made to verify that action at EU level is justified in light of the possibilities available at national, regional or local level.That means that communities, provinces and regions should be empowered to resolve their own problems. But it does not mean that the people in those geographical units must be consulted to resolve important national and international decisions.
It is a travesty of democracy that less than one third of the Dutch electorate was allowed earlier this year (2016) to paralyze the whole continent with their vote on an issue so important as it was to extend closer links of the EU with Ukraine. With less than 20% of the whole Dutch electorate voting NO, a decision painfully taken at the international level was unfortunately swept aside. And that is not right!
We have supported DI and other international organizations on their work in favor of the European Citizen's Initiative, because we believe that Europeans as a whole should have a voice to promote their hopes and aspirations. But at the international level it would be advisable to let parliaments take care of those decisions. The proper practice of Participatory Democracy should not be anarchic and should always function in harmony within representative democracy political structures.
We hope that other international organizations working to promote Participatory Democracy harbor similar ideas and convictions and that we'll all support them to curb -or at least try to curb- such impeding pseudo democratic practices.
We hope that future European initiatives focus primarily on the needs and aspirations of communities, regions and other internal issues and allow legislators representing them the task of negotiating and approving international treaties. There may be rare cases in which the negotiation involves a serious danger to national or regional security or represent an excessive weight to the whole European economy - only in those extreme cases a popular initiative on international issues would be justified.