After the failure of the Constitutional Treaty in 2005, the Lisbon Treaty finally introduced the „European Citizens’ Initiative“ (ECI) as a means of strengthening citizen involvement in EU decision making. If at least one million EU citizens from a significant number of member states sign a petition urging EU legislation on a given matter, the European Commission is now forced to act upon this initiative. The purpose of the lecture is threefold: The first purpose is to give an introduction to what the ECI is all about, i.e. what the legal foundations are and how it works in practice. Secondly, the presentation also contextualizes the development of the ECI by considering it as part of a longer process of strengthening citizen involvement in the EU that has been going on since the second half of the 1970s. Most importantly, however, the lecture offers an interpretation of the ECI from the perspective of democratic theory. What is of interest to us is not only how useful this new tool will be in practice, but also what it means in terms of the oft-cited reconstitution of democracy in Europe. Does the ECI pave the way towards a transnationalization of democracy in Europe?
Dr. Maximilian Conrad is Assistant Professor of European Studies at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Iceland.
The lecture will take place in English.