Step 1: Get started
Before launching an initiative, it is worth considering some of the key practical aspects, including:
- is asking for EU legislation to be passed the best way to achieve your goals?
- you must first set up a group of organisers composed of at least 7 EU citizens living in 7 different EU countries. To do so, you need to find people to team up with across Europe who are willing to support your issue.
- how will you organise your campaign to collect the signatures?
You can find detailed advice on all these issues on the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum
Step 2: Get your initiative registered
Before you can start collecting signatures for your initiative, you have to ask the Commission to register it.
For this, you will need to:
- create an organiser account. You will use this to manage your initiative and liaise with the Commission throughout its lifecycle.
- provide a description of your initiative in one of the official EU languages (as well as details and relevant documents on the group of organisers, funding received, etc.)
The Commission is not obliged to register all initiatives. It only registers initiatives that meet certain criteria.
Once you ask for your initiative to be registered, we will assess whether or not to accept it.
You will receive an answer within 2 months (or sometimes 4 months).
If we accept your initiative for registration, it will be published here.
Step 3: Get support
You need to get the support of at least 1 million people,
with minimum numbers in at least seven EU countries.
They must fill in a specific statement of support form.
You can collect:
- on paper (pre-filled forms, downloadable from your organiser account) or
- online (using the Central Online Collection System).
These forms are available in all EU official languages.
When you’re ready to launch your campaign, you must set a kick-off date
(at the latest 6 months from the date your initiative was registered) and inform the Commission 10 working days before.
You then have 12 months to collect the minimum number of statements of support.
Who can sign?
To sign, people must be:
- EU nationals (nationals of an EU country)
- old enough to vote in European elections or aged at least 16 in some countries
TIP – It’s better to collect more signatures than you need. Sometimes the authorities in each country might not be able to validate all the statements of support you provide. Throughout the collection procedure, you have to comply with data protection rules.
More on collecting signatures
Step 4: Get statements of support verified
If you manage to collect enough signatures within the 12-month timeframe, group them by nationality and send them for verification to the competent authorities in each EU country.
You have up to 3 months to do so.
The authorities then have another 3 months to verify which statements of support are valid (they will issue you with a certificate for this).
TIP – If you use the Commission’s central online system to collect statements of support, you can also use our secure file exchange service to transfer them (collected on paper and online) to the national authorities. We take care of this transfer.
More on verifying statements of support.
Step 5: Submit your initiative
Once you’ve received the last certificate from the national authorities, you have 3 months to submit your initiative to the Commission – together with the information on the support and funding you’ve received for the initiative.
More on submitting the initiative.
Step 6: Get an answer
Once you’ve submitted your initiative, the examination of your initiative starts:
- Within 1 month
You’ll meet with representatives of the Commission so you can explain the issues raised in your initiative in detail.
- Within 3 months
You’ll have the opportunity to present your initiative at a public hearing at the European Parliament. Parliament may also hold a debate in a full (plenary) session, which could lead to it adopting a resolution related to your issue.
- Within 6 months
The Commission will spell out what action it will propose in response to your initiative (if any), and its reasons for taking (or not taking) action. This response will be in the form of a communication formally adopted by the Commissioners and published in all official EU languages.
If the Commission considers legislation an appropriate response to your initiative, it will start preparing a formal proposal. This can require preparatory steps like public consultations, impact assessments, etc. Once adopted by the Commission, the proposal is submitted to the European Parliament and the EU Council (or in some cases, only to the Council), which will need to adopt it for it to become law.
The Commission is not obliged to propose legislation. Even where it responds positively, the most appropriate follow-up to an initiative may be non-legislative in nature. There are a range of other measures that may be more suitable.
The European Parliament may also assess the measures taken by the Commission.