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European Commission, take seriously the ECI!


08 May 2013


EU Priorities 2020

Brussels, 8 May 2013: Last week the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Water is a human right’ succeeded in gathering one million signatures from at least seven EU Member States in proportion to their size of population. This qualifies ‘Water is a human right’ as the first European Citizens’ Initiative ever to be submitted to the European Commission.

On the occasion of „Europe Day” on Thursday, 9 May 2013 and during times of the EU’s biggest crises, Democracy International calls upon the European Commission to take seriously the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘Water is a Human Right’ and to adopt the law proposal. Also, the legal design of the ECI should become more citizen-friendly and legally-binding.

“For the first time in history we celebrate on Europe Day a great success for the European Citizens’ Initiative. It makes the EU more responsive and citizen-oriented. I congratulate the organizers as well as the more than one million European citizens who signed the initiative,” says Gerald Häfner, chairperson of Democracy International.

“After being submitted to the European Commission the ECI ‘Water is a human right’ will enter its decisive phase. The reaction by the EU’s executive body will prove whether EU Commissioners and other EU leaders are willing to act in the interest of their citizens. At Europe Day we will hear many words that the EU must be a Europe of the citizens. Now it is high time to commit to what is being said”, Gerald Häfner adds.

The European Citizens’ Initiative is the first transnational tool of direct democracy. It requires one million signatures from at least seven EU countries in proportion to their size of population in order to be handed over to the European Commission. In practice since first April 2012, out of 14 ongoing ECIs, the ECI “Water is a Human Right” is the first ECI in the history of the EU that meets these thresholds. The ECI aims at maintaining water as a public good, instead of being subject to the European Union’s ‘internal market rules’.

“Particularly in times of the European crisis the EU must listen more to the citizens. The ECI is one of the means to solve the crisis with the citizens. It gives a direct say to the citizens and helps to build a genuine democracy. To be more powerful, the ECI must become a legally-binding instrument”, demands Gerald Häfner, on behalf of Democracy International, a non-governmental organisation, also known as “the global coalition for direct democracy”.


Cora Pfafferott
Democracy International

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