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The citizens’ initiative

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The citizens’ initiative

European Union citizens have the right of initiative under which they may invite the European Commission to propose a legal act in any field within its competence. It is the first example of transnational participatory democracy.

ACT

Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on the citizens’ initiative.

SUMMARY

European Union citizens have the right of initiative under which they may invite the European Commission to propose a legal act in any field within its competence. It is the first example of transnational participatory democracy.

WHAT DOES THIS REGULATION DO?

The Regulation establishes the rules and procedures governing the citizens’ initiative.

KEY POINTS

To ensure that support is sufficiently broad, a citizens’ initiative must be supported by 1 million citizens from at least a quarter of EU countries, which currently means seven countries. There is also a requirement for a minimum number of signatories from each of these countries, roughly proportionate to their respective populations (degressive proportionality).

Organising a citizens’ initiative

To launch an initiative, citizens must form a ‘citizens' committee’ comprising at least seven members residing in at least seven EU countries. All must be old enough to vote in European Parliament elections. The initiative must be registered on the European Commission's website. If the registration criteria set out in the regulation are fulfilled, the registration is confirmed by the Commission and the organisers have 1 year to collect signatures (statements of support).

Signing a citizens’ initiative

The same voting age requirement applies to those signing the statements of support. These statements can be completed either on paper or online if organisers have set up an online collection system.

One million signatures. What’s next?

The Commission has 3 months to examine the initiative. During this time, the Commission meets with the organisers who also have the opportunity to present the initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament. The Commission presents a formal response explaining what it intends to do and the reasons for that decision. It is not obliged to propose legislation.

WHEN DOES THIS REGULATION APPLY?

This regulation applies from 1 April 2012.

Further information is available from the European Commission’s European Citizens’ Initiative website.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Entry into application

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 211/2011

31.3.2011

1.4.2012

OJ L 65, 11.3.2011, pp. 1-22

RELATED ACTS

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 268/2012 of 25 January 2012 amending Annex I of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative (OJ L 89, 27.3.2012, pp. 1-2).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 887/2013 of 11 July 2013 replacing Annexes II and III to Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative (OJ L 247, 18.9.2013, pp. 11-19).

Communication from the Commission on the European Citizens' Initiative: ‘Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!’ (COM(2014) 177 final, 19.3.2014).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 531/2014 of 12 March 2014 amending Annex I of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative (OJ L 148, 20.5.2014, pp. 52-53).

Corrigendum to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 887/2013 of 11 July 2013 replacing Annexes II and III to Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative (OJ L 235, 8.8.2014, pp. 19-19).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1070 of 31 March 2015 amending Annexes III, V and VII of Regulation (EC) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative (OJ L 178, 8.7.2015, pp. 1-11).

Communication from the Commission on the European Citizens' Initiative: ‘One of us’ (COM(2014) 355 final, 28.5.2014).

Last updated: 08.07.2015

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