It has been called "the biggest innovation of transnational democracy" since the introduction of direct elections to the European Parliament 33 years ago. On April 1, 2012 a new participatory tool was born: the European Citizens' Initiative. Since then, we – the citizens of the European Union – have the same right as a majority in the European Parliament and the Member States: to contribute to setting the political agenda for a whole continent. To be sure, under the new rules established by the EU's latest "constitutional" foundation, the Lisbon Treaty, the formal right to initiate pan-European legislation remains with the European Commission alone. So in formal terms, the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is just a pre-legislative right to initiate EU law. However, the new instrument (Art. 11.4. of the Lisbon Treaty) means more agenda-setting power for the citizens than at any time before. Even more, the ECI is an entry door to the future of participatory politics: it's more direct, more transnational and more digital than anything before.
However, this Pocket Guide was not written to explain to you how and why the ECI was invented and incorporated into EU law. The Guide is instead a tool to enable you to make effective use of the ECI. It is a user manual for the first truly transnational instrument of modern direct democracy.