Have You Ever Supported a European Citizens’ Initiative?

Young People To Learn More About Shaping EU Democracy with a toolkit for schools.

Young people from across Europe will be able to learn how to shape the EU thanks to the toolkit for schools ‘EU Democracy in Action – Have Your Say with the European Citizens’ Initiative’, launched on 8 June 2023.

 

The toolkit has been designed to help high school students understand the benefits of cross-border cooperation and potentially launch their own initiatives to shape the democratic process across the European Union.

Since 2012, 101 initiatives from European citizens have been registered, on policy areas ranging from the environment, agriculture, animal welfare and consumer protection, to social and fundamental rights.

“EU Democracy in Action – Have Your Say with the European Citizens’ Initiative’ – toolkit for schools

The interactive ECI Toolkit for schools is designed to equip high school students with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to become more active and engaged EU citizens.

The toolkit comprises four thematic units, each with a different focus, moving from more general information about the European Union to specific information and activities related to the European Citizens’ Initiative.

The ECI Toolkit is available in all official EU languages. It involves interactive group work and project work.

Who Can Launch an Initiative?

The ‘EU Democracy in Action’ Toolkit highlights how European citizens can cooperate with each other to make their voice heard.

European citizens’ initiatives can be launched by a group of organisers from at least 7 Member States. The European Commission first checks the legal viability of the initiative before allowing the organisers to start collecting signatures.

Once 1 million signatures have been collected and verified by national authorities, the College of Commissioners adopts an official reply to the initiative deciding what action to take or not, and why.

The ECI in Romania

More than 900 citizen organisers have started 101 European citizens’ initiatives, out of which 46 were Romanian organisers. More than 18 million signatures that support initiatives have been collected from across the EU, of which around 471 000 signatures were collected in Romania.

The ECI’s 100th Initiative

April 2023 saw the registration of the 100th citizens’ initiative. The initiative, which started collecting support on 30 May, runs under the banner: ‘Connecting all European capitals and people through a high-speed train network’.

It joins eight other initiatives currently collecting signatures. As new citizens’ initiatives are continually submitted and registered, a 101st initiative was registered on 31 May.

ECI Success: Save Bees and Farmers! – One Million Signatures

Following the successful collection of more than one million verified signatures, the initiative: Save Bees and Farmers! Towards a bee-friendly agriculture for a healthy environment has recently received a positive follow-up from the European Commission.

The ECI called to:

  • Phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035
  • Restore biodiversity in agriculture
  • Support farmers in the transition to sustainable farming.

The Commission welcomed and acknowledged the importance of this initiative, in particular as the interlinked crises of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss constitute growing challenges for Europe’s agriculture and food security.

After careful consideration, the Commission felt that existing legislation covered many of the initiative’s demands. The priority is to ensure that the proposals currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and the Council are timely adopted and then implemented. Over one million statements in support of this citizens’ initiative are a clear signal and encouragement to the Commission that the high level of ambition of its proposals should be maintained.

The Commission will present replies to two other valid citizens’ initiatives in July.

To learn more about the ECI, you can listen to a newly released episode on CitizenCentral podcast (also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Soundcloud).

In the episode, interviews with an MEP, high school teacher and member of the European Commission discuss the newly launched ECI educational toolkit released for high school students.

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