Re-Designing the European Citizens’ Initiative: Revolution or More of the Same?

Since its inception, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has been promoted as a way to strengthen citizens’ participation in EU decision-making. The legal framework of the ECI, however, has received severe criticism for not allowing the mechanism to reach its full participatory potential. After a period of review, the Commission recently published a Proposal to replace Regulation No 211/2011, which currently sets out the rules for bringing an ECI. This paper analyses whether and how the reforms can contribute to the development of the ECI as a democratic tool. Taking stock of the suggested reforms, the paper questions whether the Commission and other EU institutions have a clear vision of the ECI’s future to provide a sense of direction to the reform process. Finally, the paper assesses whether the suggested reforms may affect the current dynamics between participatory democracy and representative democracy, thus signalling a new era for citizens’ participation in the EU.