Assessing the campaign on the last day signatures can be collected makes me rather sad: This is because the campaign has failed to reach the required one million signatures to move to the next step of the procedure: a public hearing by the European Parliament. But well, being honest, right from the start it was clear that we would not reach the one million: the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is far still to “unfriendly” to people who organise one and also to those who want to sign it: We had difficulties with making the online system of collecting signatures functional. Then, people who wanted to sign the ECI did not feel at ease disclosing their personal data. Further, some “expats” (i.e. people living in another EU Member State than their own) were not able to sign the ECI because of restrictions by the Member States they lived in. Well, this is actually ironic given the fact that these people were the primary target group of our campaign. And, finally, I wish the EU institutions had helped us more to make the ECI well known.
Nevertheless, overall I am happy. The ECI was a success in view of what we have actually achieved:
We gained the support by many institutions in Brussels, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee are official supporters of "Let me vote". The Union of European Federalists also backed our campaign. Moreover, high-level politicians committed to put the issue of full voting rights on the agenda in their country. This is particularly important as an extension of voting rights would require national constitutional changes. In Spain and France, politicians such as Irene Lozano (Spain), Jean-Christophe Lagarde (France) worked out proposals for a new law that would extend the rights to European citizens living in those countries. Further, in Belgium and Italy strong lobby activities are going on by parliamentarians to convince their colleagues. All in all, we can optimistically look into the future. And we have concrete plans in our minds.
We want to submit the ECI "Let Me Vote" again in 2015 after the new procedures of the European Citizens’ Initiative will have been put in place by the European Commission. We sincerely hope that the changes will favour us organisers and facilitate the collection of signatures. On our side, we will continue working with the institutions in Brussels and we will try to extend our network. We currently have a large committee working in Paris. An active committee also exists in Spain, supported by journalists, politicians and citizens. In the UK, a member of “Let me vote” is helping a lot with the initiative. We can also count on the support of New Europeans, an organisation based in London. In Germany, we will continue collaborating with Europa-Union Deutschland. In Luxembourg and in Belgium there are also many dedicated citizens who help us pursuing our political goals.
Connect with Let me vote
In order to secure this campaign's success in 2014 and beyond, we need to count on the support by all European citizens. I would like to thank all the people who signed the initiative last year. You can keep in touch by following us via our social media channels or on our website, all updated regularly. We are still working on the agenda, but several events will be organised in 2014 again. We will also publish the results achieved at the national level during the year.-
I would like to take this opportunity to call on all people, organisations and entreprises that are ready to support us and to take part in this adventure. You are welcome to promote this issue and to join the existing committees. Are you interested in creating a new committee? Then please contact Philippe Cayla, President of Européens sans frontières (email@example.com). You can also support our activities with donations at www.europeenssansfrontieres.eu/fr.
Let’s all make political rights for all European citizens a reality! I am even more convinced, after a year of campaigning, that this issue is crucial to the future of European democracy – and the progress of the European Union. I do hope that many citizens will join us in the coming months and participate in this crucial battle. After all, watch our video clip that explains in 30 seconds why to support "Let me vote".
Vincent Mabillard is project coordinator of the European Citizens’ Initiative “Let me vote”.
Edited by Cora Pfafferott