ECI Day 2016: ALDA following the annual meeting of the European Citizens’ Initiative on the topic of Forging Change
On 20th April, ALDA followed the debate on the revision of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), taking place at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels.
Ordinary citizens, stakeholders and representatives of the EU institutions met to debate on positive paths to forge change. The ECI is a key instrument for participatory democracy at European level. Since 2012, it allows Europeans to make legislative proposals and participate in the decision-making by connecting directly with EU institutions. It is a chance for them to discuss and influence key policies and cast more light on the public's view of the EU agenda and priorities.
The ECI Day is an important meeting place and platform where registered and future ECI organisers and stakeholders can exchange information, experience and present their ECI and activities to the public. The ECI should be a main tool to involve ordinary citizens in the decision-making processes at the EU level. Unfortunately, only very few ECIs succeeded to produce any change. There are several obstacles that the ECIs have to face. Citizens call for changes at the European Commission (EC) level.
Together with one of the biggest crises in today’s world, the ECI should be helping to connect ordinary citizens with the EU. Instead, people feel frustration and refusal. Ordinary citizens from the public supported these thoughts by a statement: “The EC obviously does not have any idea how many people turns eurosceptical instead of its intention to get closer to the EU.”. Mr György Schöpflin, MEP, named the ECI as a “hundred percent failure” for the EC. Also the European Ombudsman, Ms Emily O’Reilly highly supported the idea of an existential crisis of the EU. From her point of view, transparency, honesty and politics are key to bring participatory democracy into reality.
Despite some failures that seem to be clear, Ms Elisabeth Golberg, representative of the EC, stated that the Commission takes the ECI very seriously and is willing to actively support citizens. There is a commitment from the side of the EC to work together and there is a lot to be reached even in the current legislative framework. ALDA will keep monitoring the implementation and revision of the ECI, participatory democracy being the key for a successful European project capable of involving its citizens.