Press the legislative button

On: December 13, 2007
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About Erik Borra
Erik Borra is assistant professor in Journalism and New Media at the University of Amsterdam.


Although it should still be ratified by national parliaments, today the Lisbon Treaty was signed by all EU countries. Interestingly enough, there is a clause which allows EU citizens, upon collecting a minimum of one million signatures, to invite the Commission to submit a legislative proposal. ((Constitution, Article I-47.4: “Not less than one million citizens coming from a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Constitution. A European law shall determine the provisions for the procedures and conditions required for such a citizens’ initiative, including the minimum number of Member States from which they must come”.))

Also today, for the first time in Dutch history, the Dutch parliament similarly debated a citizens’ initiative, ‘Stop fout vlees‘ (‘Stop Wrong Meat’). For a Dutch citizen initiative to be debated there need to be at least 40.000 signatures (although there were 106.000 signatures, the proposal was rejected).

Some websites have cleverly jumped into this area by providing platforms to set up email campaigns. Take for example the new This site allows everyone to set up an email campaign as long as its content does not violate the Dutch constitution. This way there is an easy to use interface to quickly send thousands of personal emails to the politicians concerned. With a simple Google query one can find more of these systems. Future EU and current Dutch legislation, in combination with these systems thus provide citizens with a way to “press the legislative button”.

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