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.
Innovative developments in EU participatory democracy have recently led to a number of significant CJEU judgments that directly address the challenges it poses to the Community Method, particularly in the European Citizens’ Initiative case law. Having analysed these judgments, this paper explores the Court’s interpretation of participatory democracy in light of other key EU principles raised in the judgments, such as conferral, openness, and the Commission’s right of legislative initiative. The paper argues that, although the Court strives to defend the importance of citizen participation, there is an inherent conflict between the EU institutional framework and supranational participatory democracy, and the Treaties need to continue to evolve to mitigate its impact. The paper concludes with a discussion of the institutional changes that the EU might need to implement if effective citizen participation is to become a reality in the EU.
This paper performs an institutional analysis of the EU citizens’ right to petition the European Parliament (EP) and its legal regime under Article 227 TFEU and following the Schönberger judgment of the CJEU. Concerning inter-institutional relations, this right is first appraised from the perspective of the significant 'human capital' that was initially invested to prevent the establishment of the European Ombudsman and, post-Maastricht, in establishing workable relations with this EU body. The paper then examines the position of the Petitions’ Committee within the EP and argues that this Committee does not benefit from substantial resources to perform its functions and suffers from limited visibility. Lastly, the paper analyses the relationship between the petition right and the European Citizens’ Initiative and provides comparative insights into their functioning as tools for citizen involvement in the EU, before offering broader reflections on the future of the right of petition.
This paper analyses President Macron’s initiative to hold EU-wide democratic conventions in the run-up to the 2019 EP elections as a method of reviving citizen participation in shaping European integration. The analysis scrutinises the benefits and pitfalls of this initiative and develops a threefold argument. First, while the initiative correctly concentrates on bottom-up democratisation, it runs the risks associated with the possession of expertise, policy complexity and over-simplification, and post-truth politicisation. Second, the conventions create important new linkages between representative and participatory democracy by fostering new roles for parliamentarians in implementing the convention processes. Third, while contributing to input legitimacy, the future viability of conventions is contingent on its ability to inform EU policy making. Finally, the paper discusses the complementarity between the conventions and Citizens’ Dialogues organised by the European Commission.