Tag Archives: Treaty of Lisbon

New European commitment for services of general interest

New European commitment for services of general interest

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Internal market > Single market for services

New European commitment for services of general interest

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 20 November 2007, accompanying the Communication on “A single market for 21st century Europe” – Services of general interest, including social services of general interest: a new European commitment [COM(2007) 725 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission identifies the essential principles which may be applied to Services of General Interest (SGIs) (FR) throughout the whole European Union (EU). This Communication constitutes a reference framework for the governance of, and compliance with, the specificities of SGIs. This is the case before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and its Protocol on Services of General Interest.

Diversity of the Services of General Interest

SGIs are subject to public service obligations. It is for the public authorities at national, regional or local level to decide the nature and scope of the SGIs. Public authorities can provide these services themselves or they can entrust the responsibility of providing them to public or private entities.

For its part, the EU retains shared responsibility which enables it to regulate and define the conditions for the operation of SGIs with a European dimension.

The SGIs are divided into two categories and are governed by different European rules:

  • services of general economic interest (SGEIs), which are provided for remuneration, are subject to European internal market and competition rules. However, derogations to these rules may be authorised in order to ensure that the general interest is respected. Certain SGIs have a European dimension, specifically the large network industries (postal services, telecommunications, transport services and the supply of electricity and gas) and are regulated by specific European rules. In addition, European rules relating to public procurement, environmental protection and consumer protection may be applied to them;
  • non-economic services, such as police, justice and statutory social security schemes, are not subject to specific European legislation, nor to the internal market and competition rules.

In practice, the operation of these services often differs from one Member State to another. Furthermore, the distinction between economic and non-economic services requires case-by-case analysis of each activity.

Social services of general interest

The way in which Social Services of General Interest (SSGIs) are provided is generally personalised in order to meet the needs of vulnerable users, and is based on the principle of solidarity and equal access.

They may be of an economic or non-economic nature, including in the case of non-profit making organisations. The definition of economic activity depends essentially on the way in which the activity is provided, organised and financed, and not on the legal status of the service provider.

They are mainly:

  • statutory and complementary social security schemes, covering the main risks of life (health, ageing, occupational accidents, unemployment, retirement and disability);
  • other services provided directly to the person such as social assistance services, employment and training services, social housing or long-term care.

Modernising the European rules

The Commission commits to adopting a series of actions based on the Protocol on Services of General Interest annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon. These actions shall enable the European regulatory framework applicable to SGIs to be consolidated. The actions are based on the following objectives:

  • improving access to information and developing communication tools, such as the creation of an interactive information service or a single market assistance service;
  • adopting sectoral policies, specifically in the fields of energy, transport, e-communication, and postal, social and health services;
  • monitoring actions to guarantee quality, transparency and good progress.

Context

This Communication follows on from the 2004 Commission White Paper and the 2006 opinion of the Parliament which contributed to the debate and converging views on the role and approach of the EU with regard to SGIs. It also draws on the results of the public consultation on social services of general interest initiated in 2006.

Related Acts

Commission Staff Working Document – Guide to the application of the European Union rules on state aid, public procurement and the internal market to services of general economic interest, and in particular to social services of general interest [SEC(2010) 1545final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission publishes a guide aimed at clarifying the European rules applicable to Services of General Interest and to Social Services of General Interest. The Commission specifies the rules relating to the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services in the internal market, to competition, to the Service Directive, to State aid, to public procurement and to the service concessions of public authorities.

Area of freedom, security and justice

Area of freedom, security and justice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Area of freedom, security and justice

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

Area of freedom, security and justice

The Treaty of Lisbon intends to reinforce the establishment of a European common area within which persons move freely and benefit from effective legal protection. The creation of such an area has implications for areas in which European citizens have high expectations, such as immigration and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. These issues have a significant cross-border dimension and therefore require effective cooperation at European level.

The Treaty of Lisbon divides the themes related to the area of freedom, security and justice into four fields:

  • policies related to border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Matters relating to criminal judicial cooperation and police cooperation were previously covered by the 3rd pillar of the European Union (EU), governed by intergovernmental cooperation. Under the framework of the 3rd pillar, European institutions did not have any competences and could therefore not adopt regulations or directives. The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this distinction and henceforth enables the EU to intervene in all matters related to the area of freedom, security and justice.

BORDER CONTROL, ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION

The Treaty of Lisbon attributes new competences to the European institutions, which can henceforth adopt measures with a view to:

  • establishing common management of the EU’s external borders; in particular through the strengthening of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, known as Frontex;
  • creating a common European asylum system; such a system will be based on a uniform European status and common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of asylum;
  • establishing rules, conditions and rights in relation to legal immigration.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CIVIL MATTERS

The Treaty of Lisbon authorises the European institutions to adopt new measures concerning:

  • the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition: each judicial system must recognise decisions adopted by the judicial systems of the other Member States as valid and applicable;
  • effective access to justice;
  • the development of alternative methods of dispute settlement;
  • the training of the judiciary and judicial staff.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

With the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU, the whole of criminal judicial cooperation becomes a field in which the European institutions may legislate.

Specifically, the European institutions may henceforth establish minimum rules concerning the definition and sanctioning of the most serious criminal offences. In addition, the EU may also intervene in the definition of common rules concerning the functioning of criminal procedure, for example with regard to the admissibility of evidence or the rights of individuals.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon intends to strengthen the role of Eurojust in the EU. Eurojust’s mission is to help coordinate investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities of Member States. Currently, Eurojust only has the power to make proposals: it can request national authorities to initiate investigations or prosecutions. Henceforth, the Treaty of Lisbon offers the European institutions the option of extending the missions and powers of Eurojust with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon considers the possible creation of an actual European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust. Such an office would have significant powers as it could investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of crimes. In addition, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office would itself be capable of exercising the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of Member States.

Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon does not yet establish the European public prosecutor’s office, but merely authorises the Council, acting unanimously, to adopt a regulation in this regard. If the Council does not reach unanimity, then nine Member States, at the least, will have the option of establishing a European public prosecutor’s office between them under the framework of enhanced cooperation.

POLICE COOPERATION

As with criminal judicial cooperation, police cooperation benefits from the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU. Henceforth, the European institutions will be capable of adopting regulations and directives in this field.

The ordinary legislative procedure is thereby extended to all non-operational aspects of police cooperation. In contrast, operational cooperation will be determined through a special legislative procedure requiring Council unanimity. However, the Treaty of Lisbon also provides for the option of establishing enhanced cooperation if unanimity is not reached by the Council.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon provides for the gradual strengthening of the European Police Office (Europol). As with Eurojust, the Treaty of Lisbon henceforth authorises the Council and the Parliament to develop the missions and powers of Europol under the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure. Currently, the role of Europol is limited to facilitating cooperation between the authorities of Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon specifies that new tasks could also include the coordination, organisation and implementation of operational actions.

EXEMPTIONS

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark benefit from special arrangements, which include all the measures adopted under the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice. These three countries have the option of deciding not to participate in the legislative procedures in this field. They will, therefore, not be bound by the adopted measures.

In addition, two types of derogating clause are applied to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark:

  • an “opt-in” clause which enables each of them to participate, on a case by case basis, in the adoption procedure for a measure or the application of a measure already adopted. They will then be bound by this measure in the same way as other Member States;
  • an “opt-out” clause enabling them not to apply a measure at any time.

The new supporting competences of the EU

The new supporting competences of the EU

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The new supporting competences of the EU

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

The new supporting competences of the EU

The Treaty of Lisbon creates four new areas of competence in which the European Union (EU) may intervene: civil protection, administrative cooperation, tourism and sport.

The EU’s new competences in these areas are supporting competences. The EU does not acquire any additional legislative powers insofar as it can act only to support the actions of Member States, without being able to harmonise national law.

Moreover, the EU already intervened in these areas by means of cross-cutting policies. From now on, the Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the EU’s objectives and action by creating specific legal bases for these four areas.

CIVIL PROTECTION

The Treaty of Lisbon endeavours to improve the EU’s ability to deal with natural or man-made disasters. Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU enables the EU to adopt measures relating to:

  • risk prevention;
  • preparing civil-protection personnel;
  • responding to natural or man-made disasters;
  • international cooperation between national civil-protection services;
  • consistency in international civil-protection work.

Moreover, these provisions on civil protection are to be linked with the solidarity clause in Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. This clause enables the EU to assist a Member State which has been the victim of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.

ADMINISTRATIVE COOPERATION

Administrative cooperation between Member States becomes a competence of the EU (Article 197 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). The aim is to guarantee the effective implementation of European law, particularly by improving the effectiveness of Member States’ administrations. The EU can therefore adopt new measures aimed at facilitating the exchange of good practice between Member States and the introduction of training programmes.

However, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU places two restrictions on the exercise of this new power:

  • a Member State may not, under any circumstances, be obliged to avail itself of the support of the Union;
  • the Union may not adopt measures relating to the harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.

TOURISM

Tourism was already present in several European policies, such as regional policy and employment policy. From now on, the Treaty creates a specific legal basis in order to enable the EU to intervene in this area (Article 195 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).

EU action can therefore have two objectives:

  • creating a favorable environment for the development of undertakings in the tourism sector;
  • promoting cooperation between the Member States, particularly through the exchange of good practice.

SPORT

The Treaty of Lisbon confirms the EU’s competence in the area of sport. However, it does not create a specific article but incorporates a legal basis relating to sport into the section of the Treaties devoted to education, vocational training and young people.

Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states that the EU’s objective is to promote European sporting issues. Specifically, the EU will be able for example to support Member States’ actions aimed at protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen or actions aimed at combating doping in sport.

The EU will also be able to develop cooperation with international bodies in the area of sport.

European Union legal acts

European Union legal acts

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

European Union legal acts

The Treaty of Lisbon makes several changes to the types of European Union legal acts. For the sake of clarification and simplification, it firstly reduces the number of legal instruments available to the European institutions.

In addition, it enables the Commission to adopt a new category of act: delegated acts. It also strengthens the competence of the Commission to adopt implementing acts. These two changes aim at improving the efficiency of European decision-making and the implementation of these decisions.

EU legal acts are legislative or non-legislative acts adopted by the European institutions. Depending on their nature, these acts may have a legally binding effect.

REDUCING THE NUMBER OF LEGAL ACTS

Before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, there were fourteen types of legal act which could be adopted by the European institutions. This multitude of acts was due, in particular, to the old EU pillar structure: each pillar had its own legal instruments.

The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this pillar structure. In addition, it introduces a new classification for legal acts. From now on, the European institutions may adopt only five types of act:

  • a regulation;
  • a directive;
  • a decision;
  • a recommendation;
  • an opinion.

According to Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, regulations, directives and decisions are binding acts. However, recommendations and opinions are not legally binding upon those to whom they are addressed.

Moreover, a decision no longer necessarily needs to specify an addressee. It thus has a broader remit and replaces, in particular, all the instruments formerly used in the area of the CFSP.

DELEGATED ACTS

The Treaty of Lisbon creates a new category of legal act: delegated acts. The legislator delegates the power to adopt acts amending non essential elements of a legislative act to the Commission.

For example, delegated acts may specify certain technical details or they may consist of a subsequent amendment to certain elements of a legislative act. The legislator can therefore concentrate on policy direction and objectives without entering into overly technical debates.

However, this delegation of power has strict limits. In effect, only the Commission can be authorised to adopt delegated acts. Furthermore, the legislator sets the conditions under which this delegation may be implemented. Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies that the Council and the Parliament may revoke a delegation or limit its duration.

IMPLEMENTING ACTS

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the implementing powers of the Commission. The implementation of European law on Member States’ territories is, as a matter of principle, the responsibility of Member States. However, certain European measures require uniform implementation across the EU. Therefore, in these cases, the Commission is authorised to adopt implementing acts relating to the implementation of such measures.

Until the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, implementing power was held by the Council, which delegated the adoption of implementing acts to the Commission. From now on, Article 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU recognises the competence of principle of the Commission. Therefore, European measures which require uniform implementation in the Member States directly authorise the Commission to adopt implementing acts.

At the same time, the Treaty of Lisbon increases the powers of the Parliament with regard to monitoring the implementing powers of the Commission. The modalities of this monitoring were previously determined by the Council. From now on, these modalities shall be adopted by the ordinary legislative procedure, within which the Parliament is on an equal footing with the Council.

The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

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

The Treaty of Lisbon: introduction

adapt the way the European institutions function and how decisions are taken.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon has enabled several EU policies to be reformed. It has redefined and strengthened actions taken at European level.

HISTORY

A first attempt at reform took place with the drawing up of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The aim was to replace the founding Treaties of the EU with a European Constitution.

The Constitution was signed in Rome on 29 October 2004. However, before entering into force it had to be ratified by all Member States. The ratification process failed in several Member States.

On 23 July 2007, a new intergovernmental conference was convened in Lisbon to find an alternative to the constitutional Treaty and to proceed with the reforms. The idea of a European Constitution was therefore abandoned and further negotiations took place with the aim of drawing up an amending Treaty.

On 13 December 2007, the 27 EU Heads of State or Government signed the new amending Treaty in Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009, after having been ratified by all Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

DIFFERENCES WITH THE TREATY ESTABLISHING A CONSTITUTION FOR EUROPE

The Treaty of Lisbon is broadly inspired by the Constitutional Treaty. The majority of the institutional and policy reforms envisaged in the Constitution are included in the Treaty of Lisbon, but presented in a different form.

The Constitutional Treaty was intended to repeal the founding Treaties of the EU and replace them with a single text: the Constitution for Europe. In contrast, the Treaty of Lisbon does not replace the founding Treaties; it only amends them as did the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties previously. The Treaty of Lisbon therefore takes the form of a series of amendments to the founding Treaties.

This change in form does not affect matters at the judicial level, but it does have a significant effect on a symbolic level and on policy plans. The idea of a European Constitution has been abandoned and European law is still established by international Treaties.

Therefore, the EU is still based on two founding Treaties: the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. However, the Treaty establishing the European Community is renamed the “Treaty on the Functioning of the EU”.

THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE TREATY OF LISBON

The Treaty of Lisbon:

  • reforms the EU institutions and improves the EU decision-making process;
  • strengthens the democratic dimension of the EU;
  • reforms the internal policies of the EU;
  • strengthens the external policies of the EU.

Institutional issues

The reform of the EU institutions was necessary due to the increase in the number of Member States. Accordingly, the Treaty of Lisbon amends the rules concerning the composition of the Commission, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.

In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon reforms the decision-making process within the Council. It effectively abolishes the old system of weighted voting and introduces a new definition of qualified majority voting for decisions.

The Treaty of Lisbon also creates two new functions in the EU institutional architecture:

  • the President of the European Council;
  • the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon strives to clarify and improve the functioning of the EU. It abolishes the old pillar structure and introduces a new distribution of competences between the EU and Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon also simplifies the legislative procedures and the types of legal acts adopted in the EU.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon makes the functioning of the EU more flexible. It introduces several institutional clauses aimed at facilitating European integration in certain policy areas. Establishing enhanced cooperation between Member States is also made easier.

The strengthening of European democracy

One of the aims of the Lisbon Treaty is to strengthen European democracy, particularly in order to improve the legitimacy of decisions and to bring the EU and its citizens closer together. Consequently, the powers of the European Parliament are increased considerably. Similarly, the Treaty of Lisbon gives national parliaments in the EU a larger role.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon creates the citizens’ initiative, enabling citizens to participate more actively in the building of Europe.

Internal policies of the EU

One of the most significant changes concerns the European area for freedom, security and justice. The Treaty of Lisbon increases EU powers in the areas of:

  • border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon clarifies EU powers in the area of economic, social and energy policies. It also sets as a new objective the creation of a European Research Area.

External policies of the EU

EU action at international level is increased. Above all, the Treaty of Lisbon gives greater coherence and visibility to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The EU therefore acquires legal personality, enabling it to negotiate and to be a contracting party in international Treaties. In addition, the EU is henceforth represented globally by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Furthermore, a section of the founding Treaties is now devoted to the Common Security and Defence Policy. The long-term objectives aim at establishing a Common European Defence.

The European Commission

The European Commission

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The European Commission

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

The European Commission

The Treaty of Lisbon reaffirms the essential functions of the Commission concerning its right of initiative, its executive functions and its duties of inspection and representation. Some of the changes made relate more specifically to the composition of the Commission. The creation of the post of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is one of the main innovations. In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon endeavours to provide a satisfactory answer to the question of the number of Commissioners, which was long discussed in the context of the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice. Finally, following on from the earlier amending treaties, the role and powers of the President have been strengthened.

COMPOSITION

The first Commission, appointed in accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, is composed of one Commissioner for each Member State. However, as from 2014, the Treaty of Lisbon provides that the number of Commissioners making up the Commission will be smaller than the number of Member States. The members of the Commission will be chosen on the basis of a rotation system founded on the principle of equality, the rules of which will be adopted by the European Council acting unanimously and in accordance with the following principles:

  • the number of Commissioners should be equal to two thirds of the number of Member States;
  • Member States should be treated equally in terms of order of rotation and the length of time spent by their nationals as members of the College of Commissioners. Under no circumstances may two persons of the same nationality be members of the Commission at the same time;
  • each successive College of Commissioners must be constituted in a manner which best reflects the demographic and geographic diversity of all Member States of the EU.

This rotation system is the basic rule enshrined in the Treaty on European Union. However, the Treaty provides for an exception in that the European Council, acting unanimously, may decide to change the number of Commissioners. This option has already been taken up. To facilitate the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council of 11 and 12 December 2008 (FR ) allowed for the adoption of a decision enabling the Commission to continue to include a national from each Member State after 2014.

The Treaty of Lisbon also creates a new position within the Commission: the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The latter replaces both the Commissioner responsible for foreign relations and the senior official for foreign policy and common security. The role of the High Representative is to conduct the Union’s foreign policy. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chairs the Foreign Affairs Council but is also one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission. The High Representative is appointed by the European Council acting by a qualified majority with the agreement of the President of the Commission and is also subject, together with the President and the other members of the Commission, to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.

APPOINTMENT PROCEDURES

The way in which the President of the Commission is appointed has not changed. The President is nominated by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, then approved by the European Parliament. Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon is breaking new ground by introducing a direct link between the results of elections to the European Parliament and the choice of candidate for the Presidency of the Commission. From now on, the European Council must take account of the results in the Parliament when nominating the person it intends to appoint as President of the Commission. This change increases the weight carried by the Parliament in appointing the President and therefore raises the political stakes associated with European elections.

By common agreement with the elected President, the Commission then adopts the list of persons which it proposes to appoint as members of the Commission, with the exception of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The members of the Commission are chosen for their general competence and their independence. The Treaty of Lisbon adds a new criterion in terms of their commitment to Europe.

ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT

The Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice greatly increased the powers of the President of the Commission. The latter must define the College of Commissioners’ political guidelines but also determine its internal organisation. The President therefore assigns duties to the various Commissioners and may reallocate responsibilities during the President’s term of office. The President appoints the Vice-Presidents from among the members of the Commission, with the exception of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the President may also ask a Commissioner to resign without having to seek the Commission’s approval.

SUMMARY TABLE

Articles Subject

Treaty on European Union

17

Role and composition of the Commission; appointment and powers of the President of the Commission

18

Appointment and powers of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

244 to 250

Functioning of the Commission

The citizen’s initiative

The citizen’s initiative

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

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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.

Summary

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.

Conditions

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.

Context

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.

References

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

Regulation (EU) No 211/2011

31.3.2011

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.