European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register 2 new initiatives

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(Christian Wiediger, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the European Commission decided to register two European Citizens’ Initiatives entitled ‘Start Unconditional Basic Incomes (UBI) throughout the EU’ and ‘Freedom to share’. The Commission considers that the two initiatives are legally admissible, as they met the necessary conditions. The Commission has not analysed the substance of the initiatives at this stage.

‘Start Unconditional Basic Incomes (UBI) throughout the EU’

The objective of the ECI is ‘to establish the introduction of unconditional basic incomes throughout the EU which ensure every person’s material existence and opportunity to participate in society as part of its economic policy, […] while remaining within the competences conferred to the EU by the Treaties.’ The organisers specify that the unconditional basic income should be ‘universal’, ‘individual’, ‘unconditional’ and ‘high enough’. They call on the Commission to make a proposal for such unconditional basic incomes, which would reduce regional disparities.

‘Freedom to share’

The objective of the ECI is ‘to legalise sharing – via digital networks, for personal use and non-profit purposes – of files containing works and other material protected by copyright, related rights and sui generis database rights, with a view to striking a balance between the rights of authors and other rightholders and the universal right to science and culture. The organisers call the Commission to amend the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (2019/790), Database Directive (96/9/EC) and Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC).

Next steps

Following today’s registration of the initiatives the organisers can start, within the next 6 months, a 1 year process of collection of signatures of support. Should any of the initiatives receive 1 million statements of support within 1 year, from at least 7 different Member States, the Commission will have to react within 6 months. The Commission could decide either to follow the request or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning.

Background

The European Citizens’ Initiative was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens and officially launched in April 2012. In 2017, the European Commission proposed to reform the European Citizens’ Initiative and the new rules started applying as of 1 January 2020, making the process more accessible and easier.

Once formally registered, a European Citizens’ Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least one quarter of EU Member States to invite the European Commission to propose a legal act in areas where the Commission has the power to do so.

The conditions for admissibility are that (1) the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, (2) it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and (3) it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union.

Since the beginning of the ECI, the Commission has registered in total 74 Citizens’ Initiatives and refused 26.

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