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ECI - rules for Hearings adopted in European Parliament

ECI - rules for Hearings adopted in European Parliament


Hurrah, The citizens can start now. They can make use of the first instrument of participatory democracy ever on a transnational level.

Dear friends!

The European Citizens Initiative (ECI).

They can flood the European Parliament and the Commission with new ideas and proposals for better politics in Europe!

Let us take that chance!

Let us engage to make Europe more just, more democratic, more sustainable, more democratic and more free. This is not a Europe of politicians, companies and banks only. This is our Europe!

Today's decision of the European Parliament completes the tool box of the ECI. Successful ECIs will be invited by the European Parliament for a public hearing.

Plus: We have won the decisive vote in the report on implementing the ECI in the Parliament´s rules of procedure!

According to that decision the hearing will be held and organized by the Committee in charge (the committee that regularly deals with the issue raised in the ECI) jointly with the Committee on Petitions (the committee in the EP that is charged and most used to treating the citizens concerns, requests and wishes). By that we have achieved more than what had been widely expected and intended by different sides: That it should only be the Petitions committee (PETI) - or only the Committee in charge (CIC).

As to a short explanation: If only one committee is charged with the ECI, there is a high risk that ECIs would just be added to its regular meeting schedule (e.g. TOP 17 out of 20), so that a proper discussion of the ECI could not be ensured.

Plus: Had the ECI only been heard by PETI (as many members of this committee wished): Would there not be only a slight difference between Petitions and Petitioners, invited and heard by the same committee? Besides: The committee in charge is the one that has the competence and the knowledge needed to really discuss the issue. However, the CIC will in general be more reluctant towards proposals brought up by the citizens aiming to improve the policies they carried out so long. More importantly: If only the committee in charge were responsible for organising these hearings, there would not be one single entry point entrance for citizens, because every committee would develop its own proceedings, format, time table and opinion. Citizens would hardly know where to go and who to write, to call, to ask and especially what to expect. A joint organisation of the hearings, as we managed to establish today (this time with the support of the EPP group and against S&D) allows to combine the more competent CIC with the citizen friendly PETI providing steady, consistent and successful hearings.

Furthermore, we managed to ensure that the Commission will attend all these hearings at the highest possible level - which in practise will mean that the Commissioner her-/himself attends or, in case he or she cannot participate for substantial reasons, at least a director general will attend. This is crucial as the Commission is the addressee of every ECI - and it is up to the Commission to take legal action in the end, when the ECI is considered admissible and appropriate to provide a legal act.

I am satisfied and glad: because luckily, after a struggle of months where our chances seemed to be very little we managed to get the best and most citizen-friendly solution possible with the existing majorities in the EP- a solution I have been proposing for more than one year against the much bigger blocks that insisted either in the PETI- or in the CIC-only solution. But in the end we could convince a great number of MEPs and the whole EPP group for that not only salomonic but by far better solution.

So today was a good day in the European Parliament for the citizens of Europe. The amendments to the rules of procedures adopted today can be considered as the key stone in and the finalization of the ECI legislation.

Now we hope that citizens will make reasonable and effective use of this new possibility to have a say on the issues, Europe´s institutions have to deal with.

And after three years we will resume what works well and what should be improved. So: Use your rights!

With best regards,

Gerald Häfner

President of Democracy International and currently Member of the European Parliament

Strasbourg, 22. 5. 2012


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