The European Citizens’ Initiative in Times of Brexit

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Revisiting the admissibility test. – II.1. Possibility of partial registration. – II.2. Possibility of influencing ongoing negotiations. – III. Managing expectations at the post-registration stage. – III.1. False expectations in case of partially inadmissible initiatives. – III.2. Difficulty of influencing ongoing procedures. – IV. Brexit-related initiatives as a case study. – IV.1. Towards a more flexible admissibility test. – IV.2. Shortcomings at the post-registration stage. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: In the era of Brexit negotiations, which will determine the future of citizens’ rights in terms of the bilateral relations between the UK and the EU, EU citizens from different Member States have used the instrument of the European citizens’ initiative in order to bring forward their claim for retaining the same rights also in the post-Brexit era. The present Article analyses the current legal framework for European citizens’ initiatives against the benchmark of general principles of EU law, in particular the principles of good administration, legal certainty and legitimate expectations. On the basis of this analysis, the Brexit-related citizens’ initiatives are used as a case study marking a change in the Commission’s administrative practice, towards more openness and cooperative spirit in the phase of the admissibility check. However, this new approach bears the risk of creating false expectations to organisers and signatories as to the real prospect of an initiative. The Article concludes that, in order to enable the full potential of citizens’ initiatives, the Commission should strengthen the cooperation mechanisms when registering initiatives in line with the principle of good administration.

Keywords: Brexit – EU citizenship – citizens’ initiatives – participation – democracy – European Commission.

European Papers, Vol. 3, 2018, No 3, pp. 1379-1399
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/275

* Assistant Professor of EU Law, Maastricht University,


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