Innovations in Democracy: European Citizens’ Initiative

by George Hatjoullis

One hears of the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ arising from membership of the EU. One never seems to hear of the democratic innovations introduced by the EU. In April 2012 the Treaty of Lisbon gave EU citizens the right to introduce legislation into the European Parliament. Now this is direct democracy. Full details are available here ( but this blog will briefly highlight the process.

The law must relate to an issue that falls within the European Commission’s remit. You need to form a citizens committee consisting of at least 7 EU citizens from different EU countries. This is fair as it has to be an issue that is relevant to all member states and not just one. You register your initiative and then see if the EU approves. It may not but it will clarify why not. You then need to gather signatures on a petition and the EC will provide free online software to facilitate this exercise. You need 1 million signatures with a minimum number from each EU member state. It sounds a lot but with a total population of over 500 million it is less than .02%. Given the power of social media and the internet, raising 1 million signatures for a worthwhile piece of legislation that is pertinent EU-wide should not be that challenging.

So stop whingeing and exercise your democratic rights.