Sharing experiences of the ECI experiment, setting future steps
by Katerina Tsakanika
Prisca, initiator of End Ecocide in Europe and member of the Steering Group, was invited as a speaker to the 3rd discussion group within the frameworks of the event titled ”European Citizens’ Initiative Day 2014, Building up success”, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (hereafter EESC) in Brussels.
Prisca had the opportunity to inform colleagues and representatives from the European Citizen about the experiences of one year campaign for End Ecocide in Europe, pointing out the IT and legal constraints, but also pointing out possibilities for improvement and recommendations.
Earlier, during the opening session of the event, Mr. Malosse, President of the EESC, named the organisors of various ECI’s as disarmed citizens commenting on the lack of possibilities to open a real dialogue with civil society. ECI should not be considered as a gadget but instead a mainstream instrument, the liaison with the people in power to restore the democratic gap and to innovate in the European political scene. He pointed out the potential role that other institutions could have, like the EESC and the Council of Regions, by sharing competences in the procedure of the political responses to the ECIs.
Ms Sigmund, President of the ECI adhoc Group, pointed out the need for concrete support measures with a strategic approach and an overall project that will permit to build gradually the conscience of European society. By building platforms for discussion among different activists, frustration of initiatives that were not followed could be better managed. ”No country should stand alone but claim actively its part to the European citizenship”
In the same vein, Ms O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman, underlined the possibilities to create a role of engagement for the ECI. Challenges are taken, and the trust towards European Institutions must be restored. Her role in investigating further after citizens’ complaints aim to add efficiency, transparency, ethical behaviours and accountability to the ECI procedures, a goal also supported by Mr. Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission.
Mr. Kaufmann, President of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe, underlined that Europe is in its biggest Momentum for eligible voters’ power. The ECI could be the missing link at the transnational level through democratic figures and innovative potentials. By injecting robust power to this new instrument and upgrading its function with institutionalisation and infrastructure, free, accessible and unified resources will be offered to European citizens –necessary preconditions for an equivalent implication to the legislative procedures.
Also, Mr. Berg, Director of the ECI campaign, reminded the participants that the common engagement made it a reality, and this is exactly what is needed to foster and develop further this innovative tool of direct, participatory, transnational democracy and of digital inclusion through revision and regulation.
End Ecocide is proud to be among the engaged citizens, to whom Mr. Berg referred as a sign of positive evolution, that continue to participate in the improvement procedures of the ECI despite all difficulties.
Likewise, Prisca pointed out all the important issues regarding the challenges for informal groups of citizens to participate as well as the different national requirements and the need for transparency issues and rationalization of the ECI procedures. The main points she criticised are the paramount data requirements, excluding 11 million EU citizens from participating in an ECI, the need for a legal status of the citizens’ committee to limit liability, the need to improve timings of the ECI (more time between registration and start of the year) and necessary improvements in transparency, to ensure that citizens know who is behind an ECI. Read End Ecocide’s contribution to the Publication “An ECI that works”.
Overall, the event permitted the End Ecocide team to share experiences and recommendations as well as to establish communication and collaboration with other citizens that share the same concerns and wishes for the future European citizenship.
The EEE team took also the opportunity to collect signatures for the ongoing petition and inform other organisers and citizens for the actions of the EEE through the informative stands that were offered during the event.
Link to the full publication “An ECI that works” – http://ecithatworks.org/