"It is a great day for real participatory democracy," EP president Martin Schulz said at a press conference to introduce the Citizens' Initiative. On April 1 2012, the initiative comes into force almost a decade after it was first proposed, enabling citizens to ask for EU legislation on specific issues provided they gather one million signatures in support. The press conference was also attended by Commission VP Maroš Šefčovič and Danish European affairs minister Nicolaï Wammen.
"I know cases where signatures and initiatives changed a whole political direction," president Schulz told journalists. "It is a wonderful thing, citizens can directly introduce in the legislative process points they think are worthwhile." However, he also cautioned: "We do not want unrealistic hopes vested in it. We don't want it blown up to unrealistic proportions." Responding to a question concerning the possible intervention of organised lobbies in the process, the president said: "We have to make sure it's all done transparently and in any case it will be pretty easy to pick up if there are economic interests behind an initiative."