The ECI Watch is the newsletter of the ECI Support Centre. The ECI Support Center is a joint initiative of the European Citizen Action Service, Democracy International and the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe
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ECI Watch, January 2016
In This Issue...

The European Commission and the Council have not given an official answer to the European Parliament's resolution to reform the ECI. In the meanwhile, on the 22nd of February 2016, the Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is organising a Public Hearing on the ECI to debate about the Commission's revision of the current regulation. 

Since various stakeholders have identified the major problems of the current ECI and made appropriate recommendations, the EESC has decided to draw up an own-initiative opinion to present civil society's views on the ECI and participatory democracy in general.

The aim of the hearing is to present, discuss and collect arguments to feed into the EESC opinion on the ECI in areas such as the ECI's impact and validation process, simplification of the rules, the existing political limits to participatory democracy at European level and the role of the EU institutions and Member States in the ECI process. Read more here...

February 2015 (TBD)
  • European Commission's new proposal on the ECI

March 2016 (TBD)
  • Negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council on the revision of the ECI
- 20 April 2016 -

The European Citizen's Initiative Day: Forging Change
The ECI Wake Up Europe! was registered on the 30th of November 2015.

The Problem. When Hungary joined the EU, it made a commitment to respect the rule of law, democracy and the values of equality, freedom, justice and fundamental rights. However, Orban's government has shown authoritarian excesses on different occasions and the European Commission keeps shying away from taking strong political action against this behavior. 

The Objective. The European Commission must avoid encouraging Hungary's authoritarian practices which could be spread throughout the different Member States.  

The Call. In order to defend the democratic values the EU is based upon, this ECI calls for the European Commission to strongly condemn these practices and insist that Member States respect their commitment to European values. The ECI invokes Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) which can put a Member State under review and can lead to political sanctions (suspension of voting rights in the EU) if a serious breach of fundamental values of the Union is confirmed.

Deadline. 30/11/2016

*Articles related*: Juncker rebukes Hungary's EU Commissioner, EU Observer
Commission registers call for EU sanctions on Hungary, EU Observer

The ECI on Cannabis was registered on the 30th of November 2015.
The Problem. Cannabis is the most consumed drug. Instead of being seized for judicial reasons, Cannabis should be used to strengthen the health of the citizens.
The Objective. The WHO recommendations should be followed and Cannabis should be decriminalised and regulated for medical and recreational uses within the European Union. 

The Call. The ECI is calling for Cannabis, as a medical potential, to be officially recognised. This means that protection against high costs must be regulated in the entire EU and patients must have access to their medicine. Cannabis should be classified in accordance with the EU study  “European rating of drug” and the results of this study should be taken into account.

Deadline. 30/11/2016

Text only available in Swedish and currently no functioning website
The ECI Mum, Dad and Kids was registered on the 11th of December 2015.

The Problem. There is an increasing fragmentation of the concepts of "family" and "marriage". EU legislation refers to both terms, but the meaning is increasingly unclear, and there are diverging definitions in different EU Directives.

The Objective. The EU must give clear and precise definitions of "marriage" and "family". The ECI strives for the definition of marriage as "a union between a man and a woman, and family is based on marriage and/or descent."

The Call. The ECI is calling for an EU-wide definition of both terms ("family" and "marriage") that is compatible with the legislation of all Member States. In keeping with Art. 9 of the Fundamental Rights Charter, it fully respects the competence of each Member State to legislate on marriage and family.

Deadline. 11/12/2016
The Common Borders campaign is run by a team volunteers and experienced campaigners from all over Europe united in a single goal: to finally reform the unfair European migration policies. 
The Problem. Due to the collapse of states bordering Europe and the Mediterranean, hundreds of thousands of refugees from these states are trying to flee to Europe. The European governments, the EU and European societies are overwhelmed by this development. Although the EU has shared responsibility for immigration, coordination among the Member States is far from being effective.
The Objective. Migration and asylum are by now being recognised on the highest level as possibly the most important policy issues for the coming years. However, the question of how to deal with these issues remains mostly locked into national debates. No European state could possibly deal with these issues on their own. It is time for a pan-European debate about better responsibility sharing and for truly common European solutions.

The Call. Common Borders organisers want to launch an ECI for Asylum Reform and a Common Management of the EU External Borders. They are currently in the preparation phase.

People 4 Soil is a campaign to promote and support an ECI targeted at introducing a specific regulation on soil protection, fixing principles and rules to be complied by the Member States. 

The Problem. At present, soil is not subject to a coherent set of rules in the Union: the proposal for a Soil Framework Directive was withdrawn in May 2014 after it ran into a blocking minority for eight years, and existing EU policies in other areas are not sufficient to ensure an adequate level of protection for all soils in Europe.
The Objective. Soil in Europe is unprotected against arbitrary decisions and aggression that produce effects of degradation, erosion or sealing.  Since soil is a vital, limited, non-renewable and irreplaceable resource, the goal is to develop an effective EU legislation which will no longer allow the waste of land and the loss of soil's ecological functions in Europe.

The Call. The ECI will call on the European Commission to adopt a specific legal framework to protect its soil. More details on what this should include may be found in the position paper.
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