Empower people with user-friendly Citizens' Initiative, not a bureaucratic nightmare
Speaking at the opening of a GUE/NGL conference on the European Citizens' Initiative* with Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, Irish MEP Bairbre de Brún said that mobilising people to engage in decision-making should be at the heart of the Citizens' Initiative.
Speaking earlier Ms de Brún said:
"It is extremely important that the Citizens' Initiative is as accessible as possible. This should be about mobilising people and creating a direct link to "Brussels". We have two choices: we can create an initiative that empowers and involves people, especially young people, or we can create an inaccessible bureaucratic nightmare with a whole series of restrictions and obstacles.
"In my experience, restrictive age and identity requirements for registration will prevent people becoming involved. Any talk of restricting participation to registered voters is wrong. Let's make this a user-friendly instrument and empower people and communities."
Also speaking at the conference, GUE/NGL Chair Lothar Bisky told Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič that forms of direct participation can be very positive but must be taken seriously, in a reference to the French and Dutch referendums on the European Constitution. "The ECI can bring added value if it inspires people to participate but the current proposals on this are insufficient and in need of improvement."
*Provisions for the ECI are included in the Lisbon Treaty. The initiative enables one million citizens who are nationals of a "significant" number of Member States to call directly on the European Commission to bring forward an initiative of interest to them in an area of EU competence.