European Citizens’ Initiatives: The Commission welcomes the swift adoption of temporary measures to address the impact of Covid19 on Citizens’ Initiatives

Following the proposal by the Commission of 20 May, the European Parliament and Council formally adopted yesterday an agreement on temporary measures to allow for the extension of certain time limits which apply to the European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI). These temporary measures come in response to the difficulties in public campaigning and the collection of statements of support that organisers face during the coronavirus outbreak. Vice-President Věra Jourovà stated: “We very much welcome the swift adoption by the co-legislators of these temporary measures. These will provide the necessary legal certainty and clarity for organisers and should serve as reassurance that Citizens’ Initiatives are not at risk because of the pandemic.”  The rules, which extend the period for the collection of statements of support by six months for all initiatives that were ongoing on 11 March 2020 – the day when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a worldwide pandemic – willapply until the end of 2022. This extension will also apply retroactively to initiatives that ended their collection period between 11 March and the adoption of the new rules, and to those that started their collection between 11 March and 11 September 2020. The new rules also allow the Commission to decide on additional 3-month extensions, in case national confinement measures are continued in response to the pandemic, or in case of a new outbreak. The Commission can likewise grant a Member State an extension of up to 3 months to verify the collected statements of support. Finally, for successful initiatives, it will be possible to organise the meeting with the organisers and the hearing in the European Parliament remotely or to postpone them until the situation allows for in person meetings. The text of the Regulation is available on the European Citizens’ Initiatives website and will also be published in the Official Journal.