Tag Archives: Citizen

The strengthening of European democracy

The strengthening of European democracy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The strengthening of European democracy


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

The strengthening of European democracy

The Treaty of Lisbon puts the citizen back at the heart of the European Union (EU) and its institutions. It aims to revive the citizen’s interest in the EU and its achievements, which sometimes appear too remote. One objective of the Treaty of Lisbon is to promote European democracy which offers citizens the opportunity to take an interest in and participate in the functioning and development of the EU.

Such an objective necessarily depends on better recognition of European citizenship in the founding Treaties of the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon also endeavours to simplify and clarify the functioning of the Union in order to make it more understandable, and therefore more accessible to citizens. Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the representation and participation of the citizen in the European process. The creation of a citizens’ initiative is one of the main innovations.


The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a new article in which it fully recognises European citizenship. Article 10 of the Treaty on EU provides that citizens are directly represented at institutional level by the European Parliament. The article adds that this representative democracy is one of the foundations of the EU. Such recognition does not give citizens new rights but it does have strong symbolic value in that it enshrines the principle of European citizenship in the founding Treaties.

Article 10 also establishes a principle of proximity which provides that decisions must be taken as closely as possible to the citizens. This principle applies especially in the implementation of competences within the EU. This implementation should involve national and local administrations as effectively as possible, so as to bring the EU closer to its citizens.


The EU has often dismissed the image of a body with a complex structure and procedures. The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the functioning of the EU in order to improve citizens’ understanding of it. The vast numbers of legislative procedures are now giving way to a standard procedure and special legislative procedures detailed on a case by case basis. Similarly, the old pillar structure has been abolished in favour of a clear and precise division of competences within the EU.

In the same context, the Treaty of Lisbon improves the transparency of work within the EU. It extends to the Council the principle of public conduct of proceedings, which is already applied within the European Parliament. Moreover, this greater transparency will result in better information for citizens about the content of legislative proceedings.


The Treaty of Lisbon greatly strengthens the powers of the European Parliament (see European Parliament). The most significant changes include:

  • the strengthening of legislative power: the ordinary legislative procedure, in which the Parliament has the same powers as the Council, is extended to new policy areas;
  • a greater role at international level: the Parliament shall approve international agreements in the fields covered by the ordinary legislative procedure;
  • the strengthening of budgetary power: the Parliament is henceforth placed on an equal footing with the Council in the procedure for adopting the EU’s annual budget.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon enhances the role of national parliaments in the EU (see national parliaments). The latter are also able to defend the views of citizens within the EU. More specifically, national parliaments must henceforth ensure the proper application of the principle of subsidiarity. In this respect, they are able to intervene in the ordinary legislative procedure and have a right of referral to the Court of Justice of the EU.


The Treaty of Lisbon establishes a right of citizens’ initiative for the first time, introduced by Article 11 of the Treaty on EU: not less than one million European nationals may invite the Commission to submit a proposal on a specific matter. This provision expresses the EU’s wish to involve its citizens in European projects and in the taking of decisions that concern them.

Such a right is subject to several conditions. The minimum threshold of one million citizens may seem high at first sight. However, it is relatively easy to achieve in a European population approaching half a billion inhabitants and through the use of new communications technologies. Article 11 also provides that the signatory citizens should come from a significant number of Member States, in order to avoid the defence of essentially national interests.

Moreover, the right of citizens’ initiative does not take away the initiative monopoly of the European Commission. The latter remains free to act, or not to act, on the initiative proposed by European citizens. If the initiative gives rise to a legislative proposal, the act will be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure or a special legislative procedure.

Practical aspects of introducing the euro

Practical aspects of introducing the euro

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Practical aspects of introducing the euro


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Economic and monetary affairs > Practical aspects of introducing the euro

Practical aspects of introducing the euro

The euro provides numerous advantages for citizens: a single currency for euro zone countries, the same costs for both national and cross-frontier bank transfers, and a stable business environment. The process leading to the single currency started well before euro notes and coins were introduced in the first Member States in January 2002.


The citizen and the euro

  • Cross-border payments in euros
  • New legal framework (NLF) for payments

Euro notes and coins

  • Issuance of euro coins
  • National sides and issuance of euro coins
  • Denominations and technical specifications of Euro coins
  • Euro banknotes: denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal
  • Changes to the national sides of euro coins
  • Common guidelines: the national sides of euro coins

Switching over to euro notes and coins

  • The successful introduction of the euro in Slovenia
  • Practical aspects of the introduction of the euro: review of the situation
  • Green Paper on the practical arrangements for the introduction of the single currency
  • Impact on capital markets
  • The impact on Community policies, institutions and legislation
  • Preparations for public administrations

Information strategy for the euro

  • Information and communication strategy on the euro and EMU
  • Information strategy for the euro
  • Euro information strategy: final stages of implementing EMU

First assessments

  • EMU@10: successes and challenges after 10 years of Economic and Monetary Union
  • Five years of Euro banknotes and coins
  • The euro area in the world economy – Developments in the first three years
  • Review of the introduction of euro notes and coins
  • The introduction of euro banknotes and coins: one year on


  • Towards a single currency: a brief history of EMU

First stage: preliminary reforms and beginning of convergence (1 July 1990 – 31 December 1993)

  • The second stage of the EMU
  • Progressive convergence during stage one of EMU

Second stage: preparation by the Member States for EMU (1 January 1994 – 31 December 1998)

  • Prohibition of privileged access to financial institutions
  • Prohibition on the central banks granting credit facilities to public authorities and undertakings
  • Broad economic policy guidelines (1996)
  • Broad economic policy guidelines (1997)
  • Convergence in the European Union in 1996
  • Convergence in the European Union in 1997

Third stage: preparation by the Member States for EMU (from 1 January 1999)

  • Third stage of Economic and Monetary Union

The citizen’s initiative

The citizen’s initiative

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The citizen’s initiative


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

The citizen’s initiative

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on the citizen’s initiative.


The citizen’s initiative enables European citizens to invite the Commission to submit a legislative proposal on a special subject. It was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon and its objective is to strengthen the democratic dimension of the European Union (EU). Citizens now have the opportunity to have their voices heard at European level and to be fully associated with the EU’s decision-making process.

European initiative is a strictly framed right. This Regulation establishes the principles relating to such initiatives. It also sets out the procedure through which citizen’s initiatives are put in place. The procedure has several stages.


In order to guarantee its legitimacy and its European character, several conditions are required in order to implement a citizen’s initiative:

  • the initiative must be supported by a minimum of one million European citizens – i.e. citizens holding the nationality of a Member State. Those persons supporting an initiative must complete a statement of support form and are designated as the signatories of the initiative;
  • signatory citizens must come from at least a quarter of the Member States. The objective is to ensure that the initiative reflects the interests of the whole Union and not only that of one Member State or a small group of Member States;
  • the Regulation also establishes a minimum number of signatory citizens from each of the Member States represented. A minimum number is set out for each Member State in Annex I of the Regulation.

In addition, a citizens’ committee is formed for each citizen’s initiative. The committee is composed of seven members from seven different Member States, and representatives liaise with the European institutions throughout the procedure. The committee’s role is to organise and coordinate the citizen’s initiative. The committee is also responsible for encouraging the emergence of European-wide questions and fostering citizens’ reflection on certain issues.

Registration of a proposed citizen’s initiative

Prior to initiating the collection of statements of support for an initiative, the organisers must first register the proposed initiative with the Commission. The proposal shall contain in particular the subject matter and objectives of the initiative.

The Commission then examines whether the initiative is admissible. In particular it checks whether:

  • the support committee has been formed and its members designated;
  • the subject matter of the initiative forms part of the policy areas for which the Commission is authorised to submit draft legislation;
  • the initiative is not frivolous, abusive or vexatious;
  • the initiative is not contrary to the values set out in Article 2 of the TEU.

If these conditions are met, the Commission registers the proposed initiative and the organisers can initiate collection of statements of support.

Collection of statements of support

The organisers are responsible for collection from citizens. The statements of support for the initiative may be collected in writing, by email or online.

The organisers have a period of 12 months as from registration of the proposed initiative to collect all statements of support.

Verification of statements of support

Once collected, the organisers send the statements of support to the authorities of the Member States that are responsible for their verification. The national authorities then deliver a certificate attesting to the number of statements of support from the Member State concerned.

Submission of a citizen’s initiative to the Commission

Once the certificates have been obtained and the conditions met, the organisers may submit the citizen’s initiative to the Commission.

The Commission then receives the organisers to allow them to explain in detail the matters raised by the citizen’s initiative. In addition, the organisers are also entitled to a public hearing at the European Parliament.

The Commission has three months to examine the citizen’s initiative. It then adopts a communication stating:

  • its legal and political conclusions;
  • the reasons why it intends or does not intend to take action;
  • the action that it intends to take, if any.

Protection of personal data and sanctions

Signatory citizens’ personal data may only be used for the purposes of the citizen’s initiative. The data must then be destroyed at the latest one month after submission of the initiative to the Commission.

Furthermore, the Regulation provides for sanctions against the organisers in the event of false declarations or fraudulent use of data.


This Regulation was adopted pursuant to Article 11 of the TEU and Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. These articles were introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. They make it possible for citizens to introduce a citizen’s initiative.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 211/2011


OJ L 65, 11.3.2011

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Citizenship of the Union

Citizenship of the Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Citizenship of the Union


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Citizenship of the Union

Citizenship of the Union

Any person who is a national of a Member State of the European Union (EU) is a European citizen. EU citizenship thus complements national citizenship without replacing it. An integral part of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, EU citizenship confers nationals of Member States a series of rights. These include the rights to appeal to the Ombudsman, initiate legislative proposals (citizens’ initiative), and to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal and European elections. Citizens of the Union also enjoy freedom of movement and residence within the territory of the EU, as well as diplomatic and consular protection outside the Union from any Member State.


  • The Stockholm Programme
  • Action plan on the Stockholm Programme
  • The Hague Programme: 10 priorities for the next five years
  • Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice
  • The European Ombudsman
  • Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights
  • Follow-up to the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on the Free Movement of Persons
  • Reports on citizenship of the Union

Action programmes

  • European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011)
  • Fundamental rights and citizenship (2007-13)
  • Europe for Citizens (2007-13)
  • Active European citizenship (2004-2006)
  • Making citizenship work: programmes for Youth, Culture, Audiovisual and Civic Participation


  • Right of Union citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States


  • Participating in municipal elections: the right to vote and to stand as a candidate


  • Voting rights and eligibility in European Parliament elections
  • Evaluation of the European Parliament Elections (2004)
  • Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament


  • Emergency travel document (ETD)
  • Diplomatic and consular protection
  • Effective consular protection (Action Plan 2007-2009)
  • Diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries (Green Paper)