Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law


The First Ten Years of the European Citizens’ Initiative

Is it an Instrument for Enhancing Democracy or Advocacy?

Keywords European Citizens’ Initiative, ECI, participatory democracy, democracy deficit, advocacy
Authors Balázs Tárnok
Author's information

Balázs Tárnok
Balázs Tárnok: managing director and research fellow, Europe Strategy Research Institute, University of Public Service, Budapest; advisor, Institute for Minority Rights, Budapest.
  • Abstract

      The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has been available to EU citizens since April 1, 2012, which marks the tenth anniversary of the new instrument of the participatory democracy in the EU. The question to be asked at this milestone is what has become of the ECI over this decade? Although both the relevant legislation and the jurisprudence consider the ECI to be a tool for reducing the EU’s democracy deficit, given the practice of the past ten years, we may consider it an advocacy tool for the promotion of the specific interests of certain groups of EU citizens, instead. How effective is the tool in this form and what are the factors that affect its effectiveness? In this assessment, I analyze both the definition of a ‘successful ECI’, and the ‘price-value ratio’ of the ECI, with special attention to the experiences of the first decade of using the ECI in Hungary. The article aims to review the practice of the ECI in the first ten years of its operation from a theoretical approach, considering its role in the system of EU law and the development of this role throughout its implementation.

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