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Browsing by Author "Naams, Gritten"

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  • Naams, Gritten (2017)
    This master’s thesis examines the European Union’s (EU) relatively new tool for citizen participation, namely the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). The ECI was introduced in 2012 and has now been used for just over five years. The ECI’s purpose is to enable European citizens to make an initiative proposal for the European Commission. This thesis examines what kind of participation the ECI has produced in practise. The ECI has been examined through the analytical framework of Graham Smith, which he has developed for analysing the democratic innovations. The analytical framework emphasizes six democratic goods, from which four, namely inclusiveness, popular control, efficiency and transparency, have been assessed in this thesis. This study uses quantitative data on all 66 ECI initiatives that have been launched during past five years. A classification of the data has been produced, including categorization of stakeholders that have launched initiatives and the policy areas that the initiatives have touched upon. The study concludes, firstly that majority of the initiatives have been launched by already established groups such as European or national organizations, but also considerable number of informal groups and new or-ganizations have been active in launching initiatives. The ECI has not been greatly used by political parties or anti-EU movements. Secondly, the citizens have launched initiatives in variety of policy areas, e.g. consti-tutional, justice, and environmental issues. However, most of the launched initiatives have addressed policy areas that the EU does not have strong legal regulation on, and has limited policy involvement in these policy areas. Hence, there seems to be a mismatch between the issues that the citizens regard as salient and the policies that are the core of the EU. Thirdly, this study confirms the notion of previous studies that the ECI places notable cost for citizens to impact the decision-making of the EU through the ECI as only three initiatives have been successful to gather the needed 1 million statements of support. This study also confirms the findings of previous studies that in moments of crises the citizens launch more initiatives, thus, the ECI might contribute in creating at least a temporary EU-wide public sphere. As the analyses of the ECI in this thesis has been able to consider the most recent crises of the EU, namely Brexit, the results of the study suggest that the ECI might enable citizens to participate when they feel that the matter is salient enough. Thus, the benefit of implementing the ECI is higher than for not implementing this democratic innovation as, at least in moments of crises, the citizens have a tool through which they can make their concerns heard. This thesis concludes that it cannot be said that the ECI has had a significant role in improving the legitima-cy of the EU or function as a cure democratic deficit, but, it suggests that at least the ECI has not worsened the situation of the EU in terms of these two dimensions.