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ECI: Problems with online collection tool

ECI: Problems with online collection tool


Gerald Häfner, chairperson of Democracy International adresses its members concerning problems with the online collection tool of the European Citizens Initiative (ECI).

Dear friends,

a couple of European Citizens' Initiatives detected serious problems with the open source software for online signature gathering developed by the European Commission. They pointed out that the software is not respecting basic web accessibility standards and it has not been developed for or tested with the most widely used open source server and database environments. Furthermore, they complained that the security prescriptions for the hosting environment make any deployment impossible “without enormous expenditure and effort”.

A proper functioning online system is a necessary condition for organisers to run their initiative and to collect signatures it is absolutely unacceptable that the system officially offered to the initiatives does not live up to basic expectations. We also cannot accept if the technical requirements become an insurmountable obstacle for citizens without large organisations behind them.

In a meeting this morning, a representative of the Commission fully acknowledged the problem and their responsibility. They apologised towards the initiatives and ensured me that they are working hard to resolve all issues raised. In line with this, they also accepted all responsibility for any arising problem or delay and reassured me to consider solutions that avoid negative consequences for the respective initiatives regarding the collection of signatures.

Every citizens initiative has to follow a very strict time regime given by the regulation. Every signature that is not collected within 12 months will not count anymore. Therefore, it is without doubt that any delay initiatives have to face as a consequence of shortcomings of the software provided by the Commission should not fall under the limit of 12 months. On the contrary, initiatives must be given additional time in order to be able to collect signatures for 12 complete months, without any limitation. The Commission stated this morning that they are planning to propose a solution in this direction.

I appreciate this clear and consequent decision by the Commission and, at the same time, call on the Commission to solve the problems as soon as possible by providing a software, a website and competent staff that fully meets the demands of the European citizen initiatives. Only this way the ECI can serve the development of a European civil society discourse and help to foster more and sincere citizen participation in European politics.

Best wishes,

Gerald Häfner

President of Democracy International & Member of the European Parliament

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