7 Times the European Citizens’ Initiative gave Europeans a real say — with students & young people taking the lead

European Commission
4 min readJun 1, 2022


Yes, you can take part directly in shaping European Union policies. And you can choose whether you want to be involved in the process for just 5 minutes or for much longer.

We are talking about the European Citizens’ Initiative! The ECI gives every EU citizen the right to support an ongoing initiative, or start one of their own. It is a unique channel that allows you to participate directly in shaping EU policies. Yet only 2 in 5 Europeans have heard about it.

Check out the examples below of how people made a difference using this powerful tool of participatory democracy!

800 citizen organisers. 16 million signatures and counting!

Did you know any group of seven EU citizens from as many EU countries can organise/initiate a call on the European Commission to take action in any field where it can act? Since 2012, over 800 people have used the power of the European Citizens’ Initiative to spark debate, raise awareness and trigger policy change.

And if you are short on time, you can simply sign any open initiative that you support. In order for the Commission to consider an initiative, organisers need to reach 1 million signatures — and signing one takes just a few minutes! Though many initiatives have an impact even without reaching this figure. Still, in total, registered citizens’ initiatives have collected over 16 million signatures of support — and counting! You can find initiatives that are currently collecting signatures here and support a cause close to your heart.

1. Student activists whose initiative made it to the EU Green Deal!

The story of Tassos Papachristou and other student activists shows direct impact: an idea dreamt up by 7 students ended up in the ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package, a major pillar of the European Green Deal. Their initiative — “Ending the Aviation Fuel Tax Exemption in Europe” (aka Fairosene) — collected only 75,000 signatures but their policy proposal had a real impact. The activists also made a presentation to the European Parliament Committee on Petitions (PETI) and met Commission President von der Leyen.

Tassos Papachristou and Timothée Galvaire, student activists behind the Fairosene initiative whose ideas made it to the European Green Deal with President von der Leyen.

Tassos explains: “We lobbied policymakers from the EU institutions, (while) simultaneously raising awareness, collecting signatures, and overall advocacy… The support that we received from organisations, citizens and civil society overall was utterly unexpected and arguably the most positive experience.” (Info)

2. People4Soil

The “People4Soil” initiative received support from over 500 organisations and collected over 220,000 signatures. This initiative was recognised by a Commission document related to the renewed EU soil policy framework — which names the “People4Soil” initiative. (Info)

3. Roam like at home

We are currently not paying additional roaming charges across the EU. The organisers of the “Single Communication Tariff Act” initiative — one of the first initiatives registered in 2012 — say their actions helped make this happen. (Info)

Initiatives that reached 1 million signatures

4. First citizens’ initiative to reach a million!

Right2Water (Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!): The first citizens’ initiative to collect 1 million signatures led to the revision of the EU Drinking Water Directive, which includes an obligation on EU countries to improve access to water, especially for vulnerable and marginalised groups. (Info)

5. Reforming pesticide use: Stop glyphosate

Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides: This initiative called on EU countries to ban glyphosate, reform the pesticide approval procedure and set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use. After reaching more that 1 million signatures, the Commission response included revising the General Food Law Regulation, increasing the transparency of EU risk assessment in the food chain. The ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy also includes ambitious targets to reduce the use of pesticides, and risks from them, by 50% by 2030. (Info)

6. A million signatures for diversity in Europe

András Nagy, among the organisers of the Minority SafePack initiative, speaking at the European Parliament.

The “Minority SafePack — one million signatures for diversity in Europe” initiative called for improved protection for people belonging to national and linguistic minorities, and surpassed the 1 million mark. In its reply, the Commission concluded that the legislation and policies already in place provide powerful support to the initiative’s goals. The Commission is committed to providing policy support and funding in these fields. (Info)

7. End the Cage Age

This initiative called for legislation to prohibit the use of cages for certain farmed animals, and collected more than 1.3 million signatures. In response, the Commission will table a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 to phase out, and ultimately prohibit, the use of cage systems for the animals mentioned in the initiative. (Info)

Are you ready to take the initiative?

The European Citizens’ Initiative tool is user-friendly and available for you. Take inspiration from the stories above. And take the Initiative!

Learn more about the ECI:

Curious to learn more about your rights and the European Citizens’ Initiative? Watch the recording of this explanatory webinar to learn more and check out the links below:



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