EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Document 52023IP0230

European Parliament resolution of 13 June 2023 on the implementation of the Regulations on the European citizens’ initiative (2022/2206(INI))

OJ C, C/2024/482, 23.1.2024, ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/C/2024/482/oj (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, GA, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/C/2024/482/oj

European flag

Official Journal
of the European Union

EN

Series C


C/2024/482

23.1.2024

P9_TA(2023)0230

Implementation of the Regulations on the European citizens' initiative

European Parliament resolution of 13 June 2023 on the implementation of the Regulations on the European citizens’ initiative (2022/2206(INI))

(C/2024/482)

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 10(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

having regard to Article 11(4) TEU and to the first paragraph of Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/788 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the European citizens’ initiative (1) (revised ECI Regulation),

having regard to Regulation (EU) 2020/1042 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 July 2020 laying down temporary measures concerning the time limits for the collection, the verification and the examination stages provided for in Regulation (EU) 2019/788 on the European citizens’ initiative in view of the COVID-19 outbreak (2) (temporary ECI Regulation),

having regard to Rule 222 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2020 on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Minority SafePack — one million signatures for diversity in Europe’  (3),

having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2021 on Citizens’ dialogues and Citizens’ participation in the EU decision-making (4),

having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2022 on engaging with citizens: the right to petition, the right to refer to the European Ombudsman and the European Citizens’ Initiative (5),

having regard to proposals 36 and 37 of the report on the final outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and to the recommendations of European Citizens’ Panel 2 on ‘European democracy / Values and rights, rule of law, security’ in particular,

having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A9-0182/2023),

A.

whereas Article 10(3) TEU states that every citizen has the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union and that decisions must be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen;

B.

whereas, pursuant to Article 11(4) TEU, 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;

C.

whereas the European citizens’ initiative (ECI) represents one of the main innovations introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in terms of democratic participation and is the world’s first transnational citizens’ initiative mechanism; whereas Parliament has consistently been a vocal promoter of making the ECI a strong and user-friendly instrument for the democratic participation of citizens in EU agenda-setting; whereas the ECI is a significant tool to foster debate within the EU institutions;

D.

whereas ECIs have so far shown limited visibility and low effectiveness in terms of proposals by the Commission for legal acts of the Union, which risks weakening this participatory mechanism; whereas the ECI needs to be strengthened in order to become a genuine bottom-up process of initiating legislation at EU level;

E.

whereas, pursuant to Article 11(7) of the revised ECI Regulation, the possibility of collecting statements of support through an individual online collection system is limited to ECIs registered before the end of 2022 and is therefore not available for ECIs registered thereafter;

F.

whereas it is indispensable for organisers of ECIs to campaign and collect statements of support online; whereas out of 101 ECIs registered since the introduction of the instrument, 17 ECIs have been managed using individual online collection systems, five of which were able to collect more than one million signatures, and 74 ECIs have been managed using the central online collection system, eight of which were able to collect more than one million signatures;

G.

whereas there is insufficient transparency on the implementing rules in certain Member States; whereas the success of an ECI also depends on the outcome of the verification and certification procedures in the Member States;

H.

whereas, pursuant to Article 15(2) of the revised ECI Regulation, the Commission is, within six months of the publication of the ECI and after a public hearing held by Parliament, legally obliged to set out in a communication its legal and political conclusions on a valid ECI, the action it intends to take, if any, and its reasons for taking or not taking action;

I.

whereas the Commission’s responses to valid ECIs need to be clear and concrete; whereas proposals for legal acts following Commission communications should be timely;

J.

whereas Articles 14(3) and 16 of the revised ECI Regulation contain a legal obligation for Parliament to respectively assess the political support for the ECI and the measures taken by the Commission as a result of its communication;

K.

whereas the revised ECI Regulation has strengthened the political dimension of this participatory instrument by introducing a mandatory plenary debate in Parliament with the possibility of adopting a resolution;

L.

whereas, pursuant to recital 5 thereof, the purpose of the revised ECI Regulation is to make the ECI more accessible, less burdensome and easier to use for organisers and supporters, to strengthen its follow-up and to facilitate the participation of as many citizens as possible in the democratic decision-making process of the Union;

M.

whereas, while the revised ECI Regulation has substantially improved the ECI instrument, weaknesses remain in terms of its visibility and the level of awareness among citizens of it, its deliberativeness, its digital and financial dimensions and its legal and political impact;

N.

whereas, pursuant to Article 25 of the revised ECI Regulation, the Commission has to periodically review the functioning of the ECI and present a report to Parliament and the Council on the application of the Regulation; whereas its first report is due no later than 1 January 2024 and will cover a period marked by the COVID-19 pandemic;

O.

whereas Parliament intends to contribute to the upcoming Commission review in order to further improve the ECI as a unique cross-border tool for participatory democracy;

P.

whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of the ECI tool to external crises; whereas the temporary ECI Regulation, which was applicable until the end of 2022, extended the time limits for the different stages of the ECI process in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;

Q.

whereas the Commission has received 127 ECI requests since the introduction of the ECI instrument, 101 of which have been registered; whereas the Commission has received 33 ECI requests under the revised ECI Regulation, 30 of which have been registered, while two are currently being assessed; whereas 21 ECI requests have been withdrawn by the organisers before the end of the collection period; whereas 55 ECIs have reached the end of their collection period without reaching the threshold;

R.

whereas to date, only nine ECIs have reached the threshold of one million signatures (‘Right2Water’, ‘One of Us’, ‘Stop vivisection’, ‘Ban glyphosate’, ‘Minority SafePack’, ‘End the Cage Age’, ‘Save bees and farmers’, ‘Stop Finning — Stop the Trade’ and ‘Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics’), the first seven of which have received a response from the Commission; whereas the ‘Minority SafePack’ initiative was the first ECI to be debated in Parliament based on the revised ECI Regulation;

S.

whereas only a small minority of EU citizens are aware of the existence of the ECI tool and have actively participated in an ECI; whereas the lack of awareness of this instrument limits the ability of organisers to gather one million signatures for an ECI;

T.

whereas the final conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe recommend improving the effectiveness of existing citizens’ participation instruments by better informing about them and by making them more secure, accessible, visible and inclusive; whereas European Citizens’ Panel 2 recommended that ‘the EU should be closer to citizens in a more assertive way’ and that ‘the EU should promote the use of mechanisms of citizens’ participation’;

Main conclusions

1.

Points out that the ECI is an important tool for participatory democracy at EU level that can potentially lead to a proposal for a legal act of the Union; regrets, however, that the overall number of valid ECIs and the impact of the ECI instrument on EU decision-making remains very low; recalls, therefore, that both the regulatory and institutional frameworks and the use of the ECI instrument must be enhanced by improving its visibility, accessibility and legal effectiveness; considers it important to significantly strengthen the participation of citizens, in particular young people, in the democratic life of the Union; believes that the ECI can enhance the democratic dimension of the EU by promoting active citizenship;

2.

Welcomes the partial registration of ECIs introduced by the revised ECI Regulation as a step towards increased admissibility of and more effective institutional follow-up on ECIs; recalls that ECIs need to respect the values of the Union as set out in Article 2 TEU;

3.

Stresses that the online collection of statements of support is fundamental to the success of ECIs; acknowledges the advantages of the central online collection system in terms of budget and timing, and welcomes the improvements made to it by the Commission, including the possibility of customising its features and providing statistics to citizens; recognises at the same time, however, the benefits of individual online collection systems that give more freedom to organisers to use online collection systems tailored to their needs; is therefore concerned that phasing out individual online collection systems might have a negative effect;

4.

Points out that it has so far been possible to embed individual online collection systems in the websites of the different civil society organisations supporting a specific ECI without further certification obligations; recalls that individual online collection systems have been an important driver of innovation and have considerably contributed to strengthening support for ECIs;

5.

Welcomes the fact that a number of Member States have decided to lower the minimum age entitling to support ECIs;

6.

Underlines the importance of integrating electronic identification (eID) systems into ECI signature collections and encourages their use, including those issued under the European eID system once it is adopted;

7.

Notes the difficulty in collecting signatures in some Member States due to the types of data that signatories must provide;

8.

Highlights the insufficient transparency regarding the verification and certification procedures in certain Member States;

9.

Welcomes the Commission’s swift response in extending the collection periods for ECIs following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic;

10.

Highlights that organising an ECI is a demanding and costly process; regrets that it is very difficult for individual citizens to manage ECIs without being supported by associations with strong organisational capacities and financial means; underlines, therefore, the need to reduce the regulatory, administrative and financial hurdles for citizens to manage ECIs as much as possible; notes that the financial resources available to different ECIs vary greatly; underlines, therefore, the need for financial support for the organisation of ECIs;

11.

Notes the imbalance between citizens’ expectations, the huge amount of effort and extensive resources necessary to organise ECIs and their weak legal and political impact, even if the required threshold of one million signatures is reached, which may discourage citizens from launching ECIs and weaken their trust in EU institutions; stresses the need to reduce regulatory hurdles during the registration period as much as possible to fully utilise the ECI’s potential as an agenda-setting tool;

12.

Welcomes the longer time frame for responding to valid ECIs under the revised ECI Regulation, which enables the Commission to take full account of the views and positions on the ECIs expressed during the examination phase;

13.

Regrets the weak legal and political impact of valid ECIs; stresses that, in order for the objectives of the revised ECI Regulation to be achieved and the full potential of this instrument to be realised, the Commission needs to appropriately consider and respond to valid ECIs in a timely manner; stresses that the Commission should also give due consideration to the arguments of Parliament expressing support for the demands of a valid ECI in a resolution;

14.

Regrets the fact that the Commission did not consider any additional legal act or amendment to current legislation to be necessary in addressing the ECI entitled ‘Minority SafePack — one million signatures for diversity in Europe’; reiterates its call on the Commission to act on this ECI and to propose legal acts based on it; stresses that strengthening the rights of minorities, as requested by the ‘Minority SafePack’ ECI, is also important in the context of future EU enlargement;

15.

Welcomes the setting up of the ECI Expert Group; considers it, however, important that the views of relevant civil society organisations are adequately taken into account within the Expert Group and that their representatives are invited to its meetings whenever their participation might add value to its work;

16.

Recalls Parliament’s obligation to assess each valid ECI and the measures taken by the Commission in line with Rule 222(8) and (9) of its Rules of Procedure, particularly when the Commission fails to put forward or implement proposals;

17.

Considers that more in-depth discussion is needed on the concerns expressed in valid ECIs beyond the debate in Parliament; believes that one possible way to increase debate and strengthen follow-up is to add the relevant topics of ECIs to the discussions of Citizens’ Panels convened on related matters;

Recommendations

18.

Calls on the Commission to launch broad multilingual information campaigns to promote the ECI instrument and to better communicate the impact of ECIs, by also sharing success stories and achievements with citizens; encourages the Member States to coordinate, at national level, awareness-raising campaigns on the ECI instrument; strongly believes that Parliament and its Liaison Offices should be involved in the information campaigns; notes the need to involve regional and local authorities in the communication campaigns and to adapt these to also target specific groups of citizens living in remote areas or with poor internet access;

19.

Highlights that the active and effective participation of citizens in the democratic life of the EU, including the ECI, is strongly linked to citizenship education; reiterates the need to include and further strengthen awareness of EU policy-making in education programmes and curricula across the EU;

20.

Stresses that the ECI must be made more accessible to citizens by all available means; underlines the need to continue to improve awareness about this participatory instrument, in particular by promoting it on social media and including it in education programmes and curricula, in order to reach as many citizens as possible, especially young people; highlights the role of schools and universities in promoting citizenship education and encourages the Member States to promote citizens’ participation in EU decision-making in the teaching materials and extracurricular activities of schools and universities; welcomes in this context, the educational module on the ECI for secondary schools promoted by the Commission;

21.

Believes that ECIs could gain much more support and publicity if they were also promoted on relevant platforms at national level; encourages the Commission to interlink the ECI website of the EU with relevant online platforms on citizens’ participation at national level, so that the ECI can gain more visibility; calls for the creation of a central hub of all the participatory instruments used in the EU in order to develop synergies and increase the uptake of these instruments, while limiting the fragmentation of citizens’ participation infrastructure;

22.

Calls on the Commission to adopt clear and straightforward procedures and to provide detailed answers and possible solutions when initiatives are declared partly or fully inadmissible, thus enabling organisers to amend and present them again; calls on the Commission to consider ways to provide more effective follow-up to ECIs falling outside the EU’s remit through a structured cooperation with the relevant authorities of the Member States;

23.

Calls on the Commission to assess the possibility of reintroducing the option for organisers to use individual online collection systems, including the security and data protection conditions thereof, with a view to strengthening the digital dimension of the ECI and enabling organisers to plan and perform campaigns that take into account the multilingual and multicultural context of the different Member States and regions;

24.

Invites the Commission to encourage the Member States to lower the minimum age entitling to support an ECI in accordance with their national laws;

25.

Calls on the Commission to encourage the Member States to use the eID signature tool;

26.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take action to further simplify and harmonise the national standards on data collection and to ensure that ECI organisers are given access to the file of the competent authority to be able to seek effective judicial protection against unlawful certification decisions;

27.

Calls on the Commission to ensure a balanced and transparent composition of the ECI Expert Group, including in particular the involvement of experts from civil society organisations on a permanent basis, in order to take account of all relevant aspects when preparing legal acts and to improve transparency and democratic participation;

28.

Calls on the Commission to provide financial support for valid ECIs reaching the threshold of one million signatures; calls on the Commission to also assess the possibility of providing progressive financial support for ECIs that reach certain thresholds of signatures under one million;

29.

Calls on the Commission to establish a proper dialogue with organisers about their goals and the best possible means to achieve them in order to assess citizens’ input seriously and effectively; points out that such a dialogue, which must be conducted in an open and impartial manner, could already be initiated during the collection period and should be strengthened during the examination period and continued after the Commission communication on the ECI;

30.

Invites the Commission to carry out a thorough assessment of the proposals of each valid ECI and to comply fully with its legal obligation to set out its reasons for taking or not taking action, which it should do in a clear, comprehensible and detailed manner; recalls that all ECIs must be treated impartially throughout the entire procedure;

31.

Calls on the Commission to engage with organisers of valid ECIs after it has issued its communication, thereby increasing the possibility of legislative follow-up in the long term;

32.

Commits to voting on a parliamentary resolution after every valid ECI and after every Commission communication setting out its legal and political conclusions on a specific ECI, which would require changing Rule 222(8) and (9) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure; is of the view that such a resolution should also be followed by a legislative own-initiative report;

33.

Commits to further assessing, including in the context of a future revision of the Treaties, how to expand the scope, increase the accessibility and enhance the effectiveness of the ECI within the current and future legal framework of the EU;

34.

Commits to reviewing Article 11(4) TEU with a view to increasing the accessibility and legal effectiveness of the ECI by enhancing Parliament’s role;

o

o o

35.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)   OJ L 130, 17.5.2019, p. 55.

(2)   OJ L 231, 17.7.2020, p. 7.

(3)   OJ C 445, 29.10.2021, p. 70.

(4)   OJ C 99, 1.3.2022, p. 96.

(5)   OJ C 347, 9.9.2022, p. 110.


ELI: http://data.europa.eu/eli/C/2024/482/oj

ISSN 1977-091X (electronic edition)


Top