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Is the Citizens' Initiative a Serious Threat for the 'Community Method'?

Nikos Vogiatzis

The community method has been the cornerstone of European multilevel governance and the production of transnational law. For some, it was the necessary vehicle to ensure efficiency (Majone, 2005) while for others, it has revealed issues of democratic insufficiency. The much discussed citizens’ initiative will soon enter the EU world with promises for direct and participatory democratic credentials, equally expressed in the Laeken Declaration and the Commission’s White Paper on European Governance. But has Lisbon and the subsequent Regulation (EU) 211/2011 institutionalized the procedure enough, so as to conclude that one million signatures will question the Commission’s agenda setting monopoly? By marking an overall persistence to efficiency, the Lisbon treaty does not render the community method any weaker, not only because co-decision has been renamed as “ordinary legislative procedure”, covering almost the entirety of the former first pillar, but most importantly -and on the contrary- because the citizens’ initiative is a symbolic introduction, enframed by thresholds: is it an excuse for less democracy or a potential / statement for the future? Ironically, the established polyarchy (notably, the absence of concrete provisions regarding the inter-institutional role of the President of the European Council) is unlikely to increase the EU’s efficiency as well (Bribosia, 2008).

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