The European Citizens' Initiative, a sufficient tool to bring Europe closer to its citizens?


At a time of rising populism in Europe and a global crisis of democratic representation, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) aims to provide a concrete response to those denouncing the lack of democratic legitimacy of the EU institutions. The new regulation, proposed by the Commission last September and still under discussion by both the Parliament and the Council, facilitates the use of ECI. However, it remains insufficient for citizens willing to engage regularly in the EU law-making process. This Egmont Paper assesses the overall impact of the ECI on European policies and compares it to the complementary tools of participatory democracy such as the recently established Citizens’ consultations.

About the author: Dr. Basile Ridard is Senior Research Fellow at Egmont – the Royal Institute for International Relations. He is also an assistant professor at the University of Picardy Jules Verne and a visiting lecturer at Science Po Rennes. He teaches Constitutional law, European health law and French decentralization. The author would like to thank Sven Biscop, Alexander Mattelaer and Johan Verbeke for their insightful comments, as well as all the interlocutors in the EU institutions that accepted to be interviewed for this paper.

About the Egmont Papers: The Egmont Papers are published by Egmont – The Royal Institute for International Relations. Founded in 1947 by eminent Belgian political leaders, Egmont is an independent think-tank based in Brussels. Its interdisciplinary research is conducted in a spirit of total academic freedom. A platform of quality information, a forum for debate and analysis, a melting pot of ideas in the field of international politics, Egmont’s ambition – through its publications, seminars and recommendations – is to make a useful contribution to the decision-making process.

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