European Commission begins consultation on European 'citizens' initiatives'

NCVO attempts to coordinate response to measure contained in the Lisbon Treaty

Sector organisations have a chance to have an input into the way a new mechanism allowing European citizens to put an issue onto the European Union agenda will work, according to the NCVO

The recently-ratified Lisbon Treaty contains a commitment to ‘citizens' initiatives', whereby the European Commission would be obliged to consider seriously any policy proposal backed by a petition with more than a million signatures from a "significant" number of EU member states. 

The commission has launched a consultation, which will run until 31 January, on how the initiatives should work in practice.

Oliver Henman, UK and international campaigns manager at the NCVO, encouraged UK organisations to submit ideas to the NCVO so that it could incorporate them into its response to the consultation. He said that in most cases only voluntary organisations across the EU would have the capacity to gather so many signatures.

"This is a good opportunity for us as a sector to fill in the gaps around how the initiatives should work," he said.

He hoped the European Network of National Associations for Civil Society, of which the NCVO is a member, would be able to organise petitions seeking a "clear framework" for civil society within the EU, such as a European Compact.

At a conference in Warsaw earlier this week, Enna, a network of 18 national umbrella bodies, agreed to lobby for the use of citizens' initiatives to be adopted by the commission.


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