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Europe’s first citizens' initiative stalling


07 Jun 2012

Brussels (06/06/2012) – Fraternité 2020 is Europe’s very first citizens’ initiative. Its goal is to enhance EU exchange programmes – such as Erasmus or the European Voluntary Service – in order to build a united Europe based on solidarity among citizens. It currently looks for pledges to enable people to sign online. The necessary certification will cost about 4,000 EUR.

Simona Pronckutė, member on the citizens’ committee for Lithuania: “First we have tried to find a single, corporate sponsor to get the whole amount in one swoop, but that did not work. Now we switch strategies and try to collect a bigger number of individual pledges.”

Alessandra Mirabile, from Italy, represented F2020 at a conference in the European Economic and Social Committee in March: “Before the introduction of the ECI it was often conceded that the media will have to play an important role. In spite of this, we do not feel the media gives ECIs in general the room they would deserve. After all, this is the world’s first transnational tool of direct democracy! Yet, no one reports about it.”

Luca Copetti, from Belgium: “It is a vicious circle: We have no sponsor because we have no media attention, no media attention because we cannot collect signatures, and we cannot collect signatures because nobody wants to sponsor us.”

Miguel Otero-Iglesias, from Spain: “I cannot imagine that Europe’s very first ECI will fail because of €4,000. There must be 400 EU citizens who would be willing to donate €10 for an ECI on EU exchange programmes to get started. People that want to help us can just look at our English homepage. All necessary information is there.”

Note to the editors:

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon, aimed at increasing direct democracy in the EU. The initiative enables one million EU citizens, who are nationals of at least one quarter of the Member States, to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act in an area within the competences of the EU. In order to launch an ECI, citizens must form a citizens' committee composed of 7 EU citizens from 7 different member states.

In order for an ECI to be signed online, it needs to be able to set-up the so called ‘Online Collection System’ (OCS) first. This OCS – which basically consists of the necessary software, servers, and a comprehensive risk analysis – needs to be certified by the competent national authority (usually the Ministry of Interior) in which the servers are located. The software is open source and made available free of charge by the Commission. However, the ECI regulation is clear in that servers and risk analysis are at the responsibility of the organisers themselves.

More information can be found on the Commission homepage here.

Important facts about Fraternité 2020

F2020 builds on previous contributions such as the Europe 2030 Report prepared by the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe (see here) and can be seen as an ‘addition’ or ‘complementary’ to the Europe 2020 strategy (see here).

F2020 emphasizes the positive economic, social, and cultural effects more EU exchange programmes could have on the EU – also in the context of the current economic crisis – all of which we explain in detail on our homepage (see here).

F2020 was initiated by alumni of the Convention of Young European Citizens, Cluny 2010. The convention won the 1st prize (French Laureate) of the “European Charlemagne Youth Prize” in 2011 (see here). Later it became ‘open-source’ and invited everyone to join the Citizens’ Committee. Today the citizens’ committee is made up of about 50 people of all walks of life from most EU member states (see here).

F2020 has been developed with a total budget of 0 (!) Euros so far. All work has been done wholly in the spare time of the organisers.

F2020 is already supported by about 20 renowned academics on EU affairs (see here), 70+ NGOs active in organizing EVS exchanges or representing students’ interests from the entire continent (see here), and 12 MEPs representing all major parties in the EP (see here).

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(short profiles are available here)