Fancy shaping EU policy? Come April 1st, that should be possible under a new Brussels backed scheme. No, it’s no April Fool. Dubbed the European Citizen’s initiative, the democracy drive will allow people to propose new laws. But there’s a catch – petitioners will need at least a million signatures and support in at least seven member states.
Denmark’s Europe Minister Nicolai Wammen said: “From now on, and that is the essential here, it is not only for Commissioners, or Presidents or Ministers or even for members of the European Parliament to decide what will be on the agenda. From now on individual citizens can put their items on our agenda.”
EU officials hope the move will foster a stronger bond between Brussels and the bloc’s voters. But some opponents have labelled it as a democratic ‘fig leaf’, and even some supporters claim the conditions are too strict.
“This could be potentially a very useful tool for European citizens, but they made the rule extremely difficult we think for people to gather names in the street, identify people in the street. They are asking for all kinds of data which we think go too far, so the place of birth, full name, full address, passport number. I mean most people would not want to give all of that data when just a few of these things will be enough,” Jack Hunter from Greenpeace in Brussels said.
Opponents of the anti-piracy deal ACTA would appear, in theory, to have met some of the scheme’s key requirements. It is still unclear, however, if the initiative would let people overturn EU policy already in the pipeline.