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EU citizens will finally be able to petition the European Commission to make legislative proposals. Two and a half years after the Lisbon Treaty introduced the possibility, the European citizens' initiative (ECI) will enter into force on 1 April 2012. The delay is partly due to the fact that member states were given 12 months to implement the new legislation nationally.

One million signatures will be necessary, yet it will not be entirely straightforward. Many citizens' initiatives are expected to be rejected at the point of registration on grounds of inadmissibility. Indeed, the subject matter of a proposed ECI must be one upon which the EU has the legal authority to act. In addition, a citizens' committee of at least seven people from at least seven member states will be necessary to register an initiative and signatories will have to come from one quarter of member states. Yet to facilitate citizens' work, the Commission will provide a user-friendly guide and helpdesk. As a reward, organisers of initiatives who manage to collect...

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