The Lisbon Treaty’s coming into force on 1st December will establish a clear democratic right for European citizens to put forward policy proposals to the European Commission. The principle has been termed the Citizen Initiative and is as yet only broadly defined in the treaty.
The procedures and conditions required for the receipt of citizen initiatives will be determined by a Regulation to be adopted by both Parliament and Council upon a proposal of the Commission. To this end, the European Commission has launched a public consultation to help define what it calls the “practical details” of how a million citizens hailing from a representative number of EU countries could come forth with such initiatives. The consultation is supported by a Green Paper (published on the 11 November) which promises to identify practical questions. Input is welcome until the end of January 2010.
Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Inter-institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, stressed that “the participation of the citizens in decision-making is indispensable for democracy”.
eParticipation (and the role of the social media in this) is surely a practical concern not to be underestimated! Will an initiative put forward by a million Facebook members from a “significant number of member states” be considered? How will the Commission know that they effectively are individual nationals of the Member States (eAuthentication)? Will their having logged into Facebook and joined the “Cause” constitute an electronic signature to the petition for the initiative (eSignatures)? Will a million active Facebookers be able to determine the agenda of what the Commission proposes? Or will we forget all about the “e” and succumb to ole pen ‘n paper?