European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs) are a means by which European Union citizens can propose new laws or changes to existing EU laws. ECIs were introduced in 2012 as part of the Treaty of Lisbon, which aimed to increase citizen participation in EU decision-making processes.
To launch an ECI, a group of at least seven EU citizens must submit a proposed initiative to the European Commission. The proposed initiative must relate to an issue within the EU's competence, meaning it must be within the scope of EU law. It must also be clear, concise, and not contrary to EU values.
Once the proposed initiative is submitted, the European Commission has two months to decide whether to register it. If the initiative is registered, the organisers can then start collecting signatures from EU citizens in support of the initiative. The minimum number of signatures required is 1 million, although there are additional requirements related to the number of signatures needed from each EU country.
If the required number of signatures is collected within a year, the organisers can then present their initiative to the European Commission, which must consider it and decide whether to propose legislation on the issue. However, the European Commission is not obligated to propose legislation, and it may decide to take other actions, such as issuing a communication or proposing a non-legislative initiative.
ECIs provide EU citizens with an important means of influencing EU decision-making processes and shaping EU policies. They allow citizens to propose new laws or changes to existing laws, and to force the European Commission to consider their proposals. However, the success of an ECI depends on the level of support it receives from EU citizens, and the European Commission has significant discretion in deciding how to respond to a successful ECI.