Exactly 1 year after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, positive signals finally came from the European Parliament’s AFCO committee about the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Regulation that should render the Instrument operational. Yet, representatives from all undersigned youth organisations fear that AFCO’s position will be watered-down in the end game and are therefore urging MEPs from across the political spectrum to render the Instrument as democratic and accessible as possible at the plenary vote on 16 December.
“We profoundly believe that the European Citizens’ Initiative is a unique chance to actively engage Citizens in the agenda-setting of EU policy-making. We are therefore convinced that the ECI needs to be a simple and user-friendly tool, free of any bureaucratic hurdles.” stress all youth representatives: “We are therefore disappointed that the minimum age has not been reduced to 16, that 3/4 of Member States will require ECI supporters to provide intrusive personal data such as ID card numbers and that the time for collecting signatures does not exceed a mere 12 months.”
In a trialogue meeting right after the vote in AFCO, the Council and Commission put Parliament’s position immediately under pressure by raising the minimum threshold for participating EU member states from 1/5 to 1/4 and questioning the need for a mandatory public hearing after every successful ECI.
Youth representatives emphasise: “We call upon all MEPs to take on their role as Citizens’ representatives and not to give up their hard-won ground against officials from the national and European administrations. A public hearing is necessary to ensure a decent follow-up for the organisers of an ECI and ID requirements should be deleted or restricted to a very minimum number of member states. In addition, we urge MEPs to extend the time limit to 18 months to avoid that only the largest, well-funded organisations will be able to actually use the instrument in practice.”
“We are confident that many policy-makers, in particular MEPs, share our concern that the historically low turn-out at the European Parliament elections in June 2009 was a painful sign that should represent a wake-up call to revolutionise European democracy. An accessible European Citizens’ Initiative Regulation is the greatest tribute to the European Citizens and the greatest favour to decision-makers by bringing them closer to the Citizens. This is why we strongly encourage all MEPs to turn the ECI Regulation into a flexible and user-friendly tool which can provoke fresh debates within and across societies in Europe.” conclude the youth representatives.
Philippe Adriaenssens, JEF-Europe President, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 472 33 41 27
Tine Radinja, President of the European Youth Forum, email@example.com, +32 473 29 78 98
Mária Dokupilová, Executive Committee member of FYEG, firstname.lastname@example.org, +421 903 368 305
Jana Baceva, Secretary-General of EFAy, email@example.com, +32 2 513 1669