About Hanneke van Eijken
Hanneke van Eijken is assistant professor in EU law and postdoc researcher in the multidiscplinary research project bEUcitizen. Hanneke completed her Master’s programme in European Law at Utrecht University, with an honourable mention, in 2007. She worked at Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn as a support lawyer in the European law division. Hanneke conducted a PhD thesis, in which she analysed the role of EU citizenship in the process of the constitutionalisation of the European Union, under the supervision of Professor and judge of the CJEU Sacha Prechal. During her research she made several research visits to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg and stayed at the European University Institute in Florence as a visiting researcher. Her research fields are EU citizenship, constitutional EU law, fundamental rights protection, free movement rights, democracy and political participation and judicial review.
By Hanneke van Eijken and Simona de Heer
EU citizens have a political right to submit an initiative for new legislation to the European Commission. This is called the European citizens’ initiative, enshrined in Article 11 TEU, and further regulated in Regulation 211/2011. This form of direct, participatory democracy could be seen as a tool to foster citizen participation and to bring the EU closer to its citizens. It was introduced in the Lisbon Treaty as a response to even out the EU’s democratic deficit. Recent citizens’ initiatives cover issues as climate change, education for children with disabilities and evaluation mechanisms to see whether Member States adhere to European values.
From a regulatory perspective it is interesting to see whether regulation of direct democracy through the introduction of the EU citizens’ initiative is an effective tool for strengthening democracy and where its pitfalls lie. Since its introduction the citizens’ initiative has been subject to criticism as to its effectiveness. Currently, the European citizens’ initiative is being reformed. This raises questions about the effectiveness of the reformed citizens’ initiative and how it relates to parliamentary democracy. First, the weaknesses of the current citizens’ initiative will be discussed. Secondly, the reform and its achievements will be elaborated on. Finally, the relationship between parliamentary democracy and direct democracy will be examined.
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This summer many European citizens woke up in shock. Whilst reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, scrolling on Facebook, having breakfast, we learnt that a small majority of the voters in the Brexit referendum voted to leave the European Union. Not only does the (potential) Brexit have consequences for the internal market and the economic and social rights of EU citizens, but it also threatens their status as such. This is shocking for EU citizens with the nationality of another Member State residing in the United Kingdom, because their status will be redefined. For instance, in the future they will no longer be able to rely on equal treatment based on EU citizenship in the United Kingdom. Possibly even more shocked were British nationals, who might now actually lose their status as EU citizens, either living in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the European Union. This will significantly impact their possibilities to work, study, and take up residence in another EU Member State. Continue reading →