Brussels (BE), June 2023 - Young people from across Europe will be able to learn how to shape the EU thanks to the toolkit for schools entitled EU Democracy in Action - Have Your Say with the European Citizens' Initiative, launched 08 June 2023.
The toolkit has been designed to help high school students understand the benefits of cross-border cooperation and potentially launch their own initiatives to shape the democratic process across the European Union.
Since 2012, 101 initiatives from European citizens have been registered on policy areas ranging from the environment, agriculture, animal welfare, and consumer protection, to social and fundamental rights.
The interactive ECI Toolkit for schools is designed to equip high school students with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to become more active and engaged EU citizens.
The toolkit comprises four thematic units, each with a different focus moving from general information about the European Union to specific information and activities related to the European Citizens' Initiative. The Toolkit is available in all official EU languages; it involves interactive group work and project work.
The 'EU Democracy in Action' Toolkit highlights how European citizens can cooperate with each other to make their voice heard. European citizens' initiatives can be launched by a group of organisers from at least seven Member States. Before allowing the organisers to start collecting signatures, the European Commission first checks the initiative’s legal viability.
Once a million signatures have been collected and verified by national authorities, the College of Commissioners adopts an official reply to the initiative deciding what action to take or not, and why.
More than 900 citizen organisers have started 101 European citizens' initiatives, out of which 99 were German organisers. More than 18 million signatures that support initiatives have been collected from across the EU, of which around 4 409 000 signatures were collected in Germany.
April 2023 saw the registration of the 100th citizens' initiative. The initiative, which started collecting support on 30 May, runs under the banner: 'Connecting all European capitals and people through a high-speed train network'. It joins eight other initiatives currently collecting signatures.
As new citizens' initiatives are continually submitted and registered, the 101st initiative was registered on 31 May. The major European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) success, Save Bees and Farmers! Towards a bee-friendly agriculture for a healthy environment achieved one million signatures, and following their verification, the initiative received a positive follow-up from the European Commission.
The ECI called to
- phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035
- restore biodiversity in agriculture
- support farmers in the transition to sustainable farming.
The Commission welcomed and acknowledged the importance of this initiative, in particular as the interlinked crises of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss constitute growing challenges for Europe's agriculture and food security. And although, after careful consideration, the Commission stated that it felt that existing legislation covered many of the initiative's demands, support was affirmed with the priority to ensure that the proposals currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and the Council are adopted and then implemented in a timely manner.
Over one million statements in support of this citizens' initiative are a clear signal and encouragement to the Commission that the high level of ambition of its proposals should be maintained. The Commission will present replies to two other valid citizens' initiatives in July.
To learn more about the ECI, you can listen to a newly released episode on CitizenCentral podcast (also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Soundcloud).
In the episode, interviews with an MEP, a high school teacher, and a member of the European Commission discuss the newly launched ECI educational toolkit released for high school students.