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Do EU petitions work?


brussels bureau

Do EU petitions work?

It was sold as the big idea to reconnect EU voters with those often distant institutions in Brussels.

Yet it is still up for debate whether the European Citizens’ Initiative has really delivered.

The scheme is supposed to allow one million people from seven different countries to take part in the law-making process by petitioning the EU.

“The process itself is very burdensome, a lot of legal requirements. Every member state requires different information from their nationals to sign the ECI so it’s like running 28 parallel campaigns rather than one European campaign,” said Sophie von Hatzfeldt, Democracy International

There have been 51 such initiatives in the past three years.

Seven are still being discussed. Twenty-two failed to get enough signatures, whilst 20 were rejected by the Commission.

Only two have received a response so far.

“We are of course very attentive to these European Citizens’ Initiative and we want to change the rules, which are disappointing people. But there is no obligation on the Commission to take legislative action,” said Frans Timmermans, a European Commission vice-president.

The European Commission says it wants to cut down reply times and make it easier for voters to lodge a petition.

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