European citizens' initiatives will become easier to set up, support and bring to a successful conclusion.
The Council today adopted an updated regulation on the European Citizens' Initiative which will bring a number of improvements for organisers and Europeans wishing to express their support for initiatives on specific issues.
This is an important step forward in bringing citizens closer to the European Union. Presenting requests to EU decision-makers will become easier. I am looking forward to more successful initiatives and more active cross-border debates on European matters thanks to the updated legislation adopted today.
George Ciamba, Romanian Minister Delegate for European Affairs
The so-called European Citizens' Initiative enables citizens to ask the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal if the supporters of an initiative number at least one million and come from at least one quarter of EU member states.
Launching such initiatives and collecting signatures will become easier due to a central online system, which will be set up and made available for organisers, free of charge. It will allow for support to be given to an initiative online by using electronic identification (eID) or by signing the statement of support with an electronic signature, and for signatures collected on paper to be uploaded.
Moreover, in order to allow for a smooth transition to the common system, individual collection systems can continue to be used for initiatives registered before the end of 2022.
Other changes include improved assistance to organisers, translation of all initiatives into all EU languages, within certain limits, and the possibility of partial registration, in cases where parts of a suggested initiative do not fall within the Commission's area of competence. In order to be able to make full use of the 12-month collection period, organisers will have more flexibility to decide its starting date, depending on their preparations.
Under the new rules, EU citizens can support initiatives regardless of their country of residence and need to give fewer personal details when providing statements of support. Young people will have increased opportunities to participate as member states may, in accordance with their national laws, set the minimum age for supporting an initiative at 16 years.
For successful initiatives, the follow-up process will also be improved. Among other things, the examination period for such initiatives is extended from 3 to 6 months to allow more time for discussions, EP hearings and analysis before the Commission sets out its political and legal conclusions.
The new rules will apply from 1 January 2020.