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Decision in the above case on the European Commission’s refusal to register a European citizens' initiative on the creation of a system of direct democracy

Dear Mr X,

On 4 January 2022, you submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman against the European Commission for having refused to register the European citizens’ initiative ‘Iniciativa EVE’, proposing to create a system of direct democracy in the EU.

The Commission rejected your proposal because it considered that the objective of the initiative was manifestly outside the framework of its powers, as it would require a change in the EU Treaties and the constitutional system of representative democracy of the Member States.

You argue that your proposal is within the scope of the regulation on the European citizens' initiative (ECI Regulation)[1]. You maintain that, in the first stage, it would not necessarily require changing the EU Treaties or constitutional systems of EU Member States.

The Ombudsman attaches great importance to the European citizens' initiative provided for in the Treaty and, more generally, to citizens’ efforts to promote greater democratic engagement with the EU. After a careful analysis of all the information you provided with your complaint, however, the Ombudsman finds no maladministration by the Commission in its decision not to register the initiative.

The Ombudsman does not have the power to assess the substance of a proposed European citizens’ initiative, which is the Commission’s task. The Ombudsman would thus question the Commission’s assessment only in case of a manifest error.

According to the ECI Regulation, initiatives should concern issues for which the proposers consider “that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties” [emphasis added]. This means that the initiatives can only request that the Commission propose an act of secondary law.

It appears that the main objectives of Iniciativa EVE could only be achieved by changing the EU Treaties (primary law), as you recognise yourself in your exchanges with the Commission.

Moreover, Iniciativa EVE calls on the Commission to ask for direct democracy in the Member States. The Commission has no power to propose such a change.

Therefore, there is no indication of a manifest error of assessment by the Commission in deciding not to register the Iniciativa EVE.[2]

On the basis of the above, the Ombudsman has closed the case.[3]

We understand that you may be disappointed by this decision, but we hope that the above explanations are nevertheless helpful.

Yours sincerely,


Tina Nilsson 
Head of the Case-handling Unit

Strasbourg, 09/02/2022


[1] Regulation (EU) 2019/788 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the European citizens' initiative

[2] Article 6(3), first subparagraph, point (c) of Regulation (EU) 2019/788

[3] Full information on the procedure and rights pertaining to complaints can be found at