Shape the ECI by contributing early!

Welcome to our online debate entitled: “Stakeholders’ Community to Federate European Citizens’ Initiatives”

Join the debate at the bottom of this post !

European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI) as well as Political Parties’ debates and campaigns could play a key role in the running up to 2014 European Elections.

We can distinguish 3 main phases:

  • Phase 1 – April 2012: Official Launch of the European Citizens’ Initiative (TEU 2009, Art.11.4). EurActiv, together with Fondation EurActiv PoliTech and BlogActiv.eu, is playing a key role in making the ECI a success.
  • Phase 2 – 2013: European Political platforms leading to the choice of candidates and programmes will take into account successful ECIs, surveys and national elections.
  • Phase 3 – 1st half of 2014: European Elections’ Campaigns take off complementing European Parliament and parties communication.

The common denominator between these topics is the CITIZEN.

Given the very low threshold required to register and launch an ECI (‘at least 7 citizens, who are residents of at least 7 different Member States’), one can assume thousands of ECI will be submitted, but only tens or hundreds will make it through the whole process and force the European Commission to take a policy view.

Therefore, potential initiatives will need a one-stop-shop for building alliances amongst an heterogeneous community of stakeholders to meet, deliberate, rate, compare and in some cases join forces.

Prior to broaden the debates triggered by individual initiatives, there is a genuine opportunity to:

  • Shape the ECI official process, which is not 100% clear yet.
  • Empower a novel and neutral Initiactive.eu civil society-based platform to be launch this Autumn, which aims to provide online tools to build alliances across stakeholders in regard to campaigning for, proving of the achievement of the requested quorum of supporting statements and federating European Citizens Initiatives.
  • Gather momentum behind potentially successful initiatives and prepare for policy and Media impact.

BlogActiv.eu in partnership with Fondation EurActiv PoliTech and its core-partners is hosting this debate for early innovators and commentators, paving the grounds for Initiactive.eu platform to be publicly launched.

Please find below the main questions, we would like to have your views on during this Online Debate:

  • Question 1: Will the European Citizens’ Initiative transform the European democratic life and reduce the widening ‘Democratic Gap’ between its citizens and decision-makers?
  • Question 2: Will the European Citizens’ Initiative “bring Europe closer to its Citizens”?
  • Question 3: Will Internet and Social Media unleash the potential of the European Citizens’ Initiative?
  • Question 4: Will the ECI become a ‘participatory instrument’ for stakeholders to shape Europe’s Agenda?
  • Question 5: Will the ECI change EU decision-making balance of power? Are European political parties ready for the ECI? Will the ECI be an opportunity to create pan-European political parties in light of the 2014 European Elections?
  • Question 6: Can 1 million citizens be ignored in a democracy? Will the ECI lead to more frustration or be a success for Europe? What do YOU think? What are YOUR opinions?
  • Question 7: What are YOUR ECIs? How can YOU help US federating ECIs? How should Initiactive.eu look like? What are you expecting from such a platform?

 

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Comments

  1. I think these are the wrong questions to ask. I think the most important question is “How can we actually make ECI work in reality?”.

    The procedures that are currently talked about both for paper and online registrations are so prone to identity theft that I currently would advice anybody against participating in an ECI in any country that asks for ID Card numbers.

    Secondly I don’t understand the either offline or online approach. I think simply allowing to put an editable PDF file online and make it easy to give a signed printout to the authorities, could help a ECI much more that any of the troublesome online only based approaches that are currently talked about.

  2. @Andreas

    Indeed, these questions are relevant to answer the generic question: “How can we actually make ECI work in reality?”

    First, we have to keep in mind that the process of setting up the ECI process is not finalise yet, as each Member States have to put in place its own legislation on collecting and validating the ‘statements of support’ (scheduled for end of December 2011). Some will use identification means such as electronic ID cards (use to identify the signatures, as any petition is currently requiring). We need to be very keen on “data protections” and “privacy” issues. But that will need to be dealt at national level, as the EC has dropped the ball for collection of support to its Member States.

    Secondly, since February 2011, all 3 EU institutions (EC, EP, Council) have approved the ECI regulations, which have paved the way to the official EC process [http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_en.htm)].

    Thirdly, there are NO ‘competition’ between an ‘offline approach’ and an ‘Online Approach’, BUT a complementary approach in line with the ‘multi-channel approach’ taken by public administrations and EU Institutions in providing “services” to citizens and businesses.

    What is important to have in mind, when addressing the challenges of the implementation of the ECI is the need for an ECI carrier to mobilize 1M citizens behind his/her initiative to be successful.

    Such exercise is unique as it is embedding at its core a strong ‘cross-border exchange’ dimension. Therefore, one can say that Internet and Social Media will play an important role in building alliances between stakeholders and federate like minded initiatives across the EU to create a critical mass of support. It is also important to differentiate ‘online collection systems’ (i.e. ePetition), which will be provided at Member States level, and online campaigning tools, which will be use to mobilize citizens around ECIs.

    This debate aims to discuss these issues, which will, in our views, make the official ECI process implementation a success and enable civil society no matter its size or strength to successfully launch an ECI and mobilise the necessary critical mass of support to guarantee its success.

    For more information on the ECI process, as well as relevant background information on it, please have look at the following links:

    1) http://eci.blogactiv.eu/2011/06/29/37/

    2) http://eci.blogactiv.eu/about/

    3) http://eci.blogactiv.eu/about-the-organisers/

  3. The challenge with the ECI, as noted above, is actually reaching and engaging real citizens. And herein lies the dilemma. The higher one makes the identification/security barriers, the lower the chances that ‘real’ citizens will participate. But to be truly valid, genuine authentication is key. Experience with eVoting in the UK and the US shows that authentication in countries without eID is the single greatest challenge in effectively implementing eDemocracy.

  4. As long as the main issues are discussed in intergovernmental settings, people cannot elect the President of the EU Commission and nothing is done to change the citizens’ feeling that, in the end, the EU Parlament is just a place to retire national politicians for a while, these initiatives will be considered an attempt by the EU to give the impression it is something while keeping things as they are

  5. The question is not whether the ECI will bring citizens closer to the EU but whether it is a tool that can facilitate that people take ownership for decisions affecting their lives. The answer for me is clearly yes.
    The major challenge for the ECI will be to overcome the nationally fragmented media world that discusses shared European challenges only on a national scale. For that, online and/or mixed systems can definitely be of help.

  6. @Miguel Mesquita da Cunha: “Il me semble que ce que vous apportez une contribution concrète à l’émergence d’une démocratie européenne plus intense & donc plus
    authentique, & je vous en sais gré”.

    Thank you for your valuable comment to our initiative.

    @all Thank you for your valuable contributions … Keep spreading the Online Debate …

  7. Real citizens initiatives should be organized by citizens themselves, without interventions or subventions from any public authorities, and without corporate sponsoring.

    The main citizens interventions by citizens should drive on direct proactive initiatives, through changes in their way of life, interventions in their professional environment and participation in local co-governance initiatives.

    Outline of a part of this approach: http://globalesocietycomplex.blogspot.com/2011/06/personal-proactive-e-transition.html

    The euractiv initiative is an interesting source of inspiration for the citizens movements, anyway.

  8. answer to all questions execpt 6 is …No.

    answer to question 6…Yes…your eu regulary ignores more than that.

  9. @all Thank you for your comments and interesting remarks to this debate. Do not hesitate to invite your colleagues, friends or interested contacts to leave a comment.

    @Boudewijn: As we say in french: “l’argent set le nerf de la guerre” (money is the pillar of war), unfortunately democracy is expensive as well. With the ECI, citizens’ willing to launch an initiative and a campaign to support it, while reaching 1M supports, will need to raise funds. It is true that for the sake of “equality” and “equity”, a legal framework similar to national campaign in Europe, regulating donations and funding, should be put in place to prevent bias campaigns led by large organizations with resources should be put in place…

  10. Financement: un euro récolté par signature en moyenne?

    L’argent récolté par les primaire socialistes en France donne une idée de ce qu’une approche ‘crowdsourcing’ efficace pourrait générer pour des Initiatives Citoyennes. Plus de trois millions d’E pour plus de 2 millions de ‘voix’: nous sommes dans des ordres de grandeur comparable au million de ‘signatures’ des pétitions européennes. Certes, connection personnelle plus forte pour les présidentielles françaises, mais dans un seul pays, et sur des questions moins ‘pointues’ que certaines ECI.

    http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/2011/10/10/04016-20111010ARTFIG00452-les-bons-comptes-de-la-primaire-socialiste.php

    D’autres idées pour financer les campagnes ECI?

    ChL

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