the Commission's fa culty to reject a pro posal supported by at least one m illion citizens sh ould be
an ECI both procedural ly complex and simultan eously non‐binding to the Commission cannot
increase the EU's democratic credentials;
the exclusion of EU residents from supporting an ECI may give rise to
problems of consiste ncy;
further on the procedu ral complexities, the ECI Regulation app ears to ‘penalise’certain
categories of EU nat ionals exercising free movement a nd residence rights.
To that end, a Resolut ion was adopted
by the European Parliament in 2015 inviting the Commission to simplify the ECI process.
Despite its initial hesita-
tion to amend the Regulation in 2016,
more recently the Comm ission has launched an online consultat ion with a
view to receiving feed back on possible amendments to the Regulat ion.
The ECI clearly operates under the overall aegis of the Commission. More specifically, the latter hasto make two
crucial decisions that will determine the ‘life’of a proposed ECI. First, the decision as to whether or not it will register
the initiative (what may otherwise be called the ‘admissibility stage’),
further to which the collection of signatures
begins, and the decision as to whether or not it will forward the proposals of a successful ECI campaign to the EU
legislature (the ‘follow‐up stage’).
Regarding the above‐mentioned two steps in the ECI process, so far the criticism has primarily centred on the
Commission's stance during the admissibility stage: many perhaps would favour a more relaxed approach, on the part
of the Commission, when deciding on the registration of the proposal.
This article takes a different approach. By jux-
taposing the provisions of theTreaties and relevant case‐law with the evolution of Europeanintegration and, more spe-
cifically, the evolution of the institutional position of the Commission, the article argues, first, that the Commission's
control during the admissibility stage is necessary, compatible with the progressive constitutionalisation of the Union's
legal order and in any event judicially reviewable; and second, that if the Commission's width of discretion at the final
stage of the ECI is viewed from the perspective of the evolution of the Commission's position within the EU architec-
ture, then such discretion cannot be easily reconciled with the Commission's limited (perceived) legitimacy, the fact
that the latter may not always represent the Union interest, and the shift in the dynamics of the relevant actors within
the decision‐making process. Thus, a claim is advanced towards the end of this contribution that attention should now
focus on the desirable ambit of discretion that the Commission should enjoy at the follow‐up stage, namely when
deciding on how to proceed with an otherwise successful, in terms of collection of signatures, ECI.
In this context,the article touches upon furtherpreferences of constitutionalnature and institutional design,which
may well extendbeyond the ECI process as such:indeed, to what extent shouldthe EU legislative processbe ‘disrupted’
by instrumentssuch as the ECI,and, more generally, howfar citizens' views shouldbe given due consideration?Regarding
the Commission's final decision, to what extent is it constitutionally, but also politically, appropriate to qualify the
Commission's legislative prerogative? The above issues necessitate an examination as to whether the Commission's
European Parliamentary Research Service, ‘Implementation of the European Citizens’Initiative: The Experience of the First Three
Years', European Implementation Assessment, PE 536.343 (2015).
Miguel Sousa Ferro, ‘Popular Legislative Initiative in the EU: Alea Iacta Est’(2007) 26 Yearbook of European Law, 355.
Nikos Vogiatzis, ‘Is the European Citizens’Initiative a SeriousThreat for the Community Method?’(2013) 6 European Journal of Legal
Michael Dougan, ‘What Are We to Make of the Citizens’Initiative?’(2011) 48 Common Market Law Review, 1807, at 1821–1822, with
reference to the case‐law regarding the right of certain third country nationals to vote for the European election s.
Ibid., at 1827–1828.
European Parliament Resolution of 28 October 2015 on the European Citizens' Initiative (2014/2257(INI)).
See ‘Commission unlikely to revise ECI Regulation this year’(2016), available at: www.citizens‐initiative.eu/commission‐unlikely‐to‐
See ‘Public consultation on the European citizens’initiative’, available at: ec.europa.eu/info/consultations/public‐consultation‐euro-
See Art. 4(2) of Regulation.
See Art. 10(1)(c) of Regulation.
Cf., e.g., European Parliamentary Research Service, above, n. 2; European Parliament Resolution, above, n. 7.