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Citizen’s Initiative

Public participation. Source: Google images

Public participation. Source: Google images

I have always tried to think of others as complementary (the Other as  myself, which means that I have always tried to understand the Other), rather than oppose the Other (although life has taught me that if I help furthering the Other’s aims, it does not usually mean furtherance of my own aims, and disappearance of the conflict between my individual demands and the society’s demands). I agree that each person in his / her individuality recognizes his / her own humanity in other persons. The referred earlier in this blog I, Ward, writes (p. 59) that government may be seen within each individual – that way, the form of politics is an expression of each person as articulated through shared values.

People feel greater ties with others within a community feeling that the community is at least in part their creation.

One cannot say that there are absolutely no truths, because a truth is that if I put my hand into fire, I get burned, but  human beings are constrained by their own subjectivity and there therefore cannot be social and legal truths. Knowing that, an individual should participate in shaping of society and its laws. Especially, if knowing that s/he is a political being and that politics is subjective.

One of the major new developments in the Treaty of Lisbon is the European Citizen’s Initiative – This is a new form of public participation that enables one million citizens, nationals of a significant number of Member States, to request the Commission to come forward with a particular policy proposal.

Article 11 (4) TEU:

„4. Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European 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.

The procedures and conditions required for such a citizens’ initiative shall be determined in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”

Article 24 (1) TFEU:

“The European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt the provisions for the procedures and conditions required for a citizens’ initiative within the meaning of Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union, including the minimum number of Member States from which such citizens must come.”

The Article does not mention the number of the Member States that may take the initiative, and this question has been left solved by the EU’s legislation. A relevant guide may be found from the Green Paper on a European Citizens’ Initiative COM (2009) 622, that states that:

„Whilst a high threshold would indeed ensure that the initiative is sufficiently representative, it would nevertheless make the procedure more burdensome. On the other hand a low  threshold would render the initiative more ccessible, but less representative. Therefore the right balance has to be struck between these two considerations.

[…]

One option would be to require that the threshold be a majority of Member States […],

Another option, […] would be to set the threshold at one quarter of Member States. […]

A third option would be to set the threshold at one third of Member States“.

[…]

Questions:Do you consider that one third of the total number of Member States would constitute a “significant number of Member States” as required by the Treaty?

If not, what threshold would you consider appropriate, and why?

The next question is – What should the minimum number of citizens be that are required to support an initiative in each Member State, in order to ensure that it reflects a reasonable body of opinion. Should the number reflect the population of a Member State?

The Green Paper poses the next question:

Questions:Do you consider that 0.2% of the total population of each Member State is an appropriate threshold?

If not, do you have other proposals in this regard in order to achieve the aim of ensuring that a citizens’ initiative is genuinely representative of a Union interest?

The Green Paper then asks what the minimum age of the citizens participating in the initiative should be – Should it be the voting age in a Member State, or should a general age be fixed for all the EU citizens?

Questions:Should the minimum age required to support a European citizens’ initiative be linked to the voting age for the European Parliament elections in each Member State?

If not, what other option would you consider appropriate, and why?

What form should the initiative take?

Questions:Would it be sufficient and appropriate to require that an initiative clearly state the subjectmatter and objectives of the proposal on which the Commission is invited to act?

What other requirements, if any, should be set out as to the form and wording of a citizens’ initiative?

 

Questions:Do you think that there should be a common set of procedural requirements for the collection, verification and authentication of signatures by Member States’ authorities at EU level?

To what extent should Member States be able to put in place specific provisions at national level?

Are specific procedures needed in order to ensure that EU citizens can support a citizens’ initiative regardless of their country of residence?

Should citizens be able to support a citizens’ initiative online? If so, what security and authentication features should be foreseen?

 

Questions:Should a time limit for the collection of signatures be fixed?

If so, would you consider that one year would be an appropriate time-limit?

 

Questions:Do you think that a mandatory system of registration of proposed initiatives is necessary?

If so, do you agree that this could be done through a specific website provided by the European Commission?

 

Questions:What specific requirements should be imposed upon the organisers of an initiative in order to ensure transparency and democratic accountability?

Do you agree that organisers should be required to provide information on the support and funding that they have received for an initiative?

 

Questions:Should a time limit be foreseen for the Commission to examine a citizens’ initiative?

 

Questions:Is it appropriate to introduce rules to prevent the successive presentation of citizens’ initiatives on the same issue?

If so, would this best be done by introducing some sort of disincentives – or time limits?

The Commission invites You to respond to the afore questions by 31st January 2010, either by email to the address “ECI-Consultation@ec.europa.eu”, or by post to the following address:

European Commission

Secretariat General

Directorate E “Better Regulation and Institutional Issues”

Unit E.l “Institutional Issues”

B – l049 Brussels

 

The contributions received will be published on the internet

The whole document is available at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative

Relevant information may also be found from: European Parliament resolution of 7 May 2009 requesting the Commission to submit a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation of the citizens’ initiative – P6_TA(2009)0389

Following the afore referred public consultation, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on the citizens’ initiative on 31 March 2010.

You may also take a look at http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/eu-attempt-frame-citizens-initiative/article-187237



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