European citizens’ initiative 

As of 1 April 2012, EU citizens have a new tool allowing them to participate in shaping EU policy. Put in place by the Lisbon Treaty, the citizens’ initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least a quarter of the EU Member States to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence.

The organisers of a citizens’ initiative - a citizens’ committee composed of at least 7 EU citizens, resident in at least 7 different Member States - have 1 year to collect the necessary support. Signatures must be certified by the competent authorities in each Member States. Organisers of successful initiatives will participate in a hearing at the European Parliament. The Commission will have 3 months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it.

The procedure

Gather 1 million signatures and ask the EU for a new law - it’s open to all EU citizens. Sounds difficult? It’s not. Introducing your initiative is really easy, just follow these seven steps.

Remember - the initiative has to be on an EU-related subject that falls within the scope of the European Commission’s powers. So it can not be, for example, a change to the EU treaties. It can’t be anything abusive, frivolous or vexatious. Not sure whether your issue falls within the Commission’s remit? Don’t worry. The Commission will tell you before you start to gather signatures.

Step #1- Form a citizens’ committee! 

You need at least seven people living in seven different countries.

Remember - the committee members must be EU citizens aged at least 18 (16 years old in Austria). This minimum number can’t include Members of the European Parliament. A committee can’t be set up by an organisation, though they can support your issue. Want to know more - check the regulation (article 8).

Step #2 - Register your initiative! 

And wait for the green light from the European Commission.

You can register the initiative in any one of the 24 official EU languages First gather some basic information: the title of the initiative, a short summary of the subject matter, a reference to the EU treaties, the contact details of your citizens’ committee.

The European Commission will get back to you within two months to let you know if the initiative fulfils the basic conditions to go ahead. Your initiative will be published in the online register.

Want to know more - check the regulation (article 10)

Step #3 - Start collecting signatures. 

You can collect them on paper and online. The European Commission will provide free-of-charge open-source software for online collection.

Remember - the data you need to gather with the signatures (i.e. name, address, nationality) may vary across EU states. Check national requirements!

It’s not enough to gather signatures in one country. You need signatories from at least a quarter of EU countries. Since there are currently 27 member states you need to gather signatures in at least seven. You must obtain a minimum number of signatures in each EU country. So a little bit of maths...The formula: multiply the number of MEPs elected from each country by 750 (page 10 of the Regulation).

Step #4 - You have 1 million signatures! Congratulations! 

Submit the signatures to each of the EU countries concerned. It’s up to them to verify their validity. You will receive a certificate from each member state.

Want to know more - check the Regulation (article 18)

Step #5 - Verified? All OK? Submit the signatures to the European Commission. 

You must disclose information about any support or funding received for your initiative. The European Commission will publish all this information on its website.

Want to know more - check the Regulation (article 19)

Step #6 - The floor is yours! 

You will present your initiative to the European Commission and during a public hearing in the European Parliament More about public hearings in the Parliament.

Step #7 - Mission accomplished! 

The European Commission will inform you what action it intends to take. The European Commission will keep the process transparent. All information concerning your initiative will be made public. The European Commission can propose a new law and send it to the European Parliament and the Council for approval.

Signatures needed per country 

  • Austria 
  • Belgium 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Croatia 
  • Cyprus 
  • Czechia 
  • Denmark 
  • Estonia 
  • Finland 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • Greece 
  • Hungary 
  • Ireland 
  • Italy 
  • Latvia 
  • Lithuania 
  • Luxembourg 
  • Malta 
  • Netherlands 
  • Poland 
  • Portugal 
  • Romania 
  • Slovakia 
  • Slovenia 
  • Spain 
  • Sweden 

Key Numbers 

  • 1 initiative 

  • 1 public hearing 

  • 2 months for EC to decide if the ECI is eligible 

  • 3 months of verification 

  • 3 years - the ECI Regulation will be revised by the EC 

  • 7 countries or more to provide signatures 

  • 7 members of the citizens committee 

  • 12 months to collect 

  • 18 years to be able to sign (16 in Austria) 

  • 24 languages 

  • 27 EU Member States 

  • 1.000.000 signatures