The European Citizens’ initiative: too much democracy for EU polity?

  • Longo E
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This Article analyzes the state of democracy in the EU through the study of the European Citizens’ Initiative . The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) represents one of the main ways the European institutions chose during the making of the European Convention, and then reproduced in the Lisbon Treaty, to beat populism by bringing decision-making closer to the citizens and promoting a new legitimization of Europe’s political unity. This Article starts by arguing that if one wants to understand European versions of populism it is necessary to pay attention to the reason why “democratic deficit” and “Euroscepticism” are predominant problems that the European Union is facing. It then analyzes the implementation of the ECI and the main issues of this instrument of democratization pointing at three flaws: a) the problem of e -democracy; b) the difficulty of stimulating large participation of civil society and people for the purposes of the ECIs; c) the cumbersome role of the EU Commission and the difficulties to ensure a real participatory instrument for the European citizens. From the analysis of the ECI this Article first advocates for a more robust public sphere in Europe as indispensable ground for a supranational democracy; second, it supports the revision of the ECI procedural aspects to transform it into a viable channel for amending EU policies in a more democratic way; third, this Article participates in the debate over the brand of democracy most suited to EU governance and polity.




Longo, E. (2019). The European Citizens’ initiative: too much democracy for EU polity? German Law Journal, 20(02), 181–200.

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