EU Institutions

European citizens' initiative

Regulation on European Citizens' Initiative

According to the Treaty of Lisbon, at least one million EU citizens, originating in a significant number of Member States, may invite the European Commission to introduce a proposal of EU legislation in a certain area. This piece of legislation aims at increasing the involvement of European citizens, Romanian nationals included, in the making of EU policies. It would also enlarge the wide range of citizens’ rights, adding to the right to elect and to be elected in the European Parliament, to approach the European Ombudsman, or to address requests to EU institutions.

To implement this provision of the Treaty, the European Commission, after an extensive public consultation process, presented the draft Regulation on the Citizens’ Initiative on 31 March 2010.

Following debates in the framework of the Council of the European Union and of the European Parliament, and negotiations between the two institutions, the draft Regulation was adopted, according to the ordinary co-decision procedure, by the European Parliament and the Council in December 2010 and February 2011 respectively. The Regulation on the Citizens’ Initiative came into force on 1st April 2011.

During the process of developing the Regulation, Romania aimed at finding a balance between the initiative’s accessibility and at preventing an abusive exercise of this right.

The Regulation established that the statements of support must come from at least one third of the Member States. The minimum number of statements of support is determined on the basis of a multiple (750 x) of number of MEPs from each Member State (as Romania has 33 MEPs, the minimum number of statements of support in its case is 24,750).

The minimum age for supporting an initiative is set as the age at which citizens are entitled to vote in the European Parliament elections, according to their relevant national legislation.  To promote an initiative, the organisers need to establish a citizens committee made up of at least seven persons from at least seven different Member States. The committee will be in charge of collecting the statements of support.

The statements of support can be collected both in paper format and online, provided that the online systems have security features ensuring both the verification and the protection of personal data. Such systems must be certified by the relevant authorities of Member States. The deadline for collecting the statements of support for an initiative was agreed at twelve months starting from the date of its registration.

Before starting to collect the statements of support, the organisers must enter the citizens’ initiative in the European Commission’s register. The Commission confirms the registration (within 2 months), provided several requirements are met related to the competence of the European Commission to present a legislative proposal in the respective field, to the nature of the initiative (it must not be abusive, frivolous or vexatious or manifestly contrary to the values of the Union). The European Commission can refuse to register a proposal if the conditions laid down in the Regulation are not met.

After completion of the necessary procedures for collecting the statements of support and having them verified/certified by the relevant authorities, the organisers formally submit that citizens’ initiative to the European Commission. Within 3 months the Commission will decide what action it will take in connection with the proposal in point.

The Regulation also contains a review clause asking the Commission to issue a report within three years of the date of application of the Regulation; subsequently, every three years the Commission is to present a report on implementation of the Regulation.

Until full application of the Regulation provisions in April 2012, Member States have to identify the national authorities in charge of certifying the systems of online collection of statements. Member States also have to designate a national authority to coordinate the verification of data contained in the citizens’ statements. For Romania, the Ministry of Communications an Information Society was designated as responsible authority for certifying the online collection systems and the Ministry of Administration and Interior as the responsible authority for the verification of date contained in the citizen’s statements (Government Decision 717/2012).

The European Commission’s webpage on the European Citizens' Initiative: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/welcome.