The European Citizens’ Initiative: Transnational Democracy in the EU at last?

Maximilian Conrad


The European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, in force since December 2009, introduced the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) as a means of strengthening citizen involvement in EU decision making. A minimum of one million citizens from at least seven of the EU’s current 27 member states can request that the European Commission submit a legislative proposal on the issue of the initiative. But the ECI is not only a means of strengthening participatory democracy in the EU. It also bears the potential for a more fundamental transformation of democracy, namely in the direction of transnational participatory democracy. Starting with a short introduction to how the ECI will work in practice as well as a brief history of participatory democracy in the EU, this article therefore examines the ECI from the perspective of democratic theory. How profound an impact will the ECI have on democracy in the European Union?

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