European Citizens’ Initiative - National Election Office
- 1. Preparation and setting up of a citizens’ committee
A European Citizens’ Initiative has to be organised by a citizens’ committee composed of at least 7 EU citizens, who are of the voting age in elections to the European Parliament (that is, i.e. 18 years old, except for Austria, where the voting age is 16), and are residents of at least 7 different member states. They do not have to be nationals of 7 different member states, but they have to have the nationality of at least one EU member state.
This committee is the official organiser of the initiative and is responsible for the organisation of the whole process. The committee must appoint a representative and an alternate representative from among its members, who are mandated to speak and act on its behalf. They will be the contact persons who will liaise between the committee and the European Commission throughout the procedure.
Members of the European Parliament can not be taken into account for the minimum number of 7 persons required to form a citizens’ committee.
- 2. Registration of the proposed initiative
Before starting to collect statements of support, organisers have to request the registration of their proposed initiative on the official website.
In order to register a proposed citizens’ initiative, the organisers must provide the information required by Annex II of the Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011, in one of the official languages of the Union, as follows:
• the title of the proposed citizens’ initiative, in up to 100 characters;
• the subject matter, in up to 200 characters;
• a description of the objectives of the proposed citizens’ initiative on which the Commission is invited to act, in up to 500 characters;
• the provisions of the Treaties considered relevant by the organisers for the proposed initiative;
• the personal data (full name, postal address, nationality and date of birth) of the 7 members of the citizens’ committee, in particular the e-mail address and telephone number of the representative and the alternate representative;
• documents providing the full name, postal address, nationality and date of birth of the 7 members of the citizens’ committee;
• all known sources of support and funding for the proposed citizens’ initiative, at the time of registration, the sum of which exceed EUR 500 per year per sponsor.
They may also provide the following:
• the address of the website of the proposed citizens’ initiative (if any);
• more detailed information (max. 5 MB) on the subject, objectives and background to the proposed citizens’ initiative in an annex;
• they may also, if they wish, submit a draft legal act (maximum 5 MB).
The Commission will register the proposed initiative within 2 months if:
• the citizens’ committee has been formed and the contact persons were appointed;
• the proposed citizens’ initiative does not manifestly fall outside the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act of the Union to implement the Treaties;
• the proposed citizen’s initiative is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious, and
• the proposed citizens’ initiative is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union.
All registered initiatives are published on the official website.
Once the initiative has been registered, the representative and the alternate representative of the citizens' committee have access to the initiative's account on the official website, where they can be informed about the next steps of the procedure and manage the material to be submitted to the Commission, in relation to the proposed initiative.
Once registered, organisers can upload a translation of the proposed initiative (at least the title, the subject and objectives) in other official EU languages. If there is no obvious and significant inconsistencies between the original text and the translated version concerning the title, subjects and objectives, the Commission will publish the translation on this website.
During the registration process and the procedure, the organisers must provide up-to-date information on the sources of support and funding for the proposed initiative if the amount exceeds 500 Euros per year and per sponsor.
Note: The organisers can withdraw the proposed initiative at any time until statements of support have been submitted to an authority of a given member state. The withdrawal is irreversible. A withdrawn initiative can not be relaunched and the collected statements of support become invalid.
- 3. Certification of the online collection system
This step is mandatory only if the organisers want to collect statements of support online.
Organisers who wish to collect statements of support online must create an online collection system, available from their homepage, that is in conformity with the following broad technical and security requirements:
- only natural persons (not computers) may submit a statement of support form online;
- the data provided online are securely collected and stored, in order to ensure, inter alia, that they may not be modified or used for any purpose other than their indicated support of the given citizens' initiative and to protect personal data against accidental or unlawful destruction or accidental loss, alteration or unauthorised disclosure or access;
- the system can generate statements of support in a form complying with the models set out in Annex III of the Regulation on the citizens’ initiative, in order to allow for the verification by the authorities of the member states.
The detailed technical specifications which the system has to be in conformity with are set out in a special Regulation so that the system can comply with the above requirements.
In order to help the organisers with setting up their collection system, the Commission set up an open-source software complying with the relevant security and technical requirements. The download of the software is free
The use of this software is not mandatory: the organisers are free to decide on setting up their own collection system, but they must ensure that their system complies with all the technical requirements mentioned above.
The organisers should request the competent authority of the relevant member state where the data will be stored to certify the conformity of their online collection system.
In Hungary, the request should be submitted to the National Election Commission.
The 1 month deadline for the authorisation of the system begins when the necessary documentation has been fully submitted by the organisers.
Prior to initiating the online collection of the statements of support, the request can be submitted at any time. It is necessary to obtain the certificate even if the online collection system uses the software made available by the Commission, but it is easier to obtain the certificate in this case.
The competent national authority has 1 month to respond to the request for certification. It has to examine whether the online collection system is in accordance with the technical requirements mentioned above.
Once the national authority has certified the conformity of the system, the organisers have to publish the copy of the certificate on their homepage.
Advices to facilitate the certification procedure.
- If the organisers use the open source software, made available by the Commission, the authority of the member state certifies without any difficulty the conformity of the system, provided that the parts of the system not belonging to the software also comply with the technical requirements.
- The organisers may obtain the certificate either before or after the registration of the proposed initiative, but they are only allowed to initiate the online collection of signatures in possession of the certificate.
- 4. Collection of Statements of Support
As soon as the verification of the registration of the proposed initiative has taken place, the organisers may start the collection of statements of support from citizens. They have 12 months to collect the requisite number of statements of support (one million overall and the number of the signatories should reach the minimum number needed in at least 7 member states).
During the whole procedure, organisers must observe the rules in force regarding data protection. This means that prior to the collection of the statements of support, they may have to inform the data protection authority of the member state where the data management will take place.
Accordingly, prior to initiating the collection of statements of support in Hungary, and prior to installing the online collection system - certified in any of the member states -, they should register with the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information.
For more information on data protection, click here.
For the collection of statements of support, organisers have to use special forms which comply with the models set out in Annex III of the Regulation on the citizens' initiative, and contain all the information required for the proposed initiative. The information must correspond with the information published on the official website about the proposed initiative.
The data that signatories are required to provide on the forms varies according to the country of their nationality.
The model form to be filled in by Hungarian citizens and EU citizens residing in Hungary can be downloaded from here.
Organisers can download, from their organisers' account on their official website, pre-completed forms which contain the relevant information concerning their initiative, can be customized, and are adjustable to the legal requirements of each country where they want to collect signatures. The software developed by the Commission provides also online forms complying with the conditions of each country.
In Hungary, signatories are required to give their personal identification number, or the number of their passport or their identity card issued by hungarian authorities.
For more information on data requirements set by the individual countries, click here.
Statements of support may be collected on paper and/or in electronic format.
The collecting list of statements of support includes information about the proposed initiative and the boxes to be filled in by the signatories.
Information about the proposed initiative can only be in the language in which the initiative was published on the official website.
The names of the boxes in the collecting list can be in any of the official EU languages.
Organisers are not required to collect statements of support in each of the 27 member states. They have to collect a minimum number of signatures in at least 7 different member states.
Note: Statements of support collected in countries where the minimum number required cannot be reached will be added to the total number of signatures in order to reach the minimum of 1 million signatures.
Signatories must be EU citizens (any citizen of an EU member state) who are of the voting age in elections to the European Parliament (that is, 18 years old, except for Austria, where the voting age is 16).
Act on Electoral Procedure regulates the process of collection of statements of support in Hungary: statements of support may be collected anywhere without harassing the citizens. Exceptions:
a) in any workplace during working hours, or when fulfilling his/ her obligation to work arising from employment or other legal relation concerning performance of work;
b) from persons in service in the Hungarian Armed Forces, at law-enforcement bodies and at the National Tax and Customs Administration at their post or while they are performing their duty;
c) on means of public transport;
d) in official premises of state bodies and local governments bodies.
Advantages may not be granted or promised to the person who gives their signature or – having taken into consideration that person – to any third person. A person giving their signature can not ask for or accept an advantage or a promise of an advantage in return for giving their signature.
- 5. Verification of the statements of support
After organisers have collected the necessary statements of support, they must ask the competent authorities in all the countries where they have collected statements of support to certify the number of valid statements of support from the given member state.
In Hungary, the statements of support have to be submitted to the National Election Commission.
Organisers have to request the certificate only once from each member state where the collection of statements of support took place.
Organisers can submit statements of support in paper or electronically, but must separate those statements of support collected in paper form, those which were signed electronically using an advanced electronic signature and those collected through an online collection system.
Statements of support collected online may be submitted printed in paper form, and also electronically via secure means such as encrypted files on a CD-ROM. XML-files may also be used if having the consent of the competent authority of the relevant member state. The software developed by the Commission allows the export of statements of support in XML-format.
In Hungary, the National Election Commission accepts the statements of support submitted in XML format.
Competent authorities have up to 3 months to certify the number of valid statements of support. Verifications are conducted via appropriate procedures, and random samplings can also be conducted.
In Hungary, by virtue of Act CCXXXVIII of 2013 on Initiating Referendums, the European Citizens' Initiative and Referendum Procedure, the verification of statements of support belongs to the scope of competence of the National Election Commission. The representative of the organisers can be present during the verification of the signatures.
Organisers may want to collect more statements of support than required as it may occur that the national authorities - depending on the result of the controls performed by them - certify a lower number of statements than what the number of submitted statements was.
It is in the scope of competence of the National Election Commission to issue a certificate stating the number of valid statements of support.
- 6. Submission of the Initiative to the Commission
Once organisers have received the certificates from national authorities stating that the required number of statements of support have been collected, they can submit their initiative to the Commission with the information regarding the support and funding received for that initiative.
- 7. Examination and the Answer of the Commission
Within three months following the submission of the initiative:
- the Commission will meet the organisers so they can explain in detail the issues raised by the citizens’ initiative
- the organisers will be given the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament
- the Commission adopts an official response in which making it clear and giving the reasons for possible actions in regard to the initiative, and should in the same way give the reasons for not taking any action.
The response will take the form of a communication – an official document adopted by the College of Commissioners – and will be published in all official EU languages.
In certain cases, the Commission may only formulate a preliminary opinion, and decides to conduct further examinations before the final decision.
The Commission is not obliged to put forward a legislative proposal in response to an initiative. If the Commission decides to submit such a proposal in reaction to the initiative, this proposal is then submitted to the legislator (usually the European Parliament and the Council or, in certain cases, the Council only), and if passed, it becomes a legislative act.
If the Commission decides to follow the initiative, a legislative procedure starts.
- 8. Rules for Legal Remedy during the conduct of the European Citizens’ Initiative in Hungary
Act CCXXXVIII of 2013 on initiating referendums, the European Citizens’ Initiative and referendum procedure defines the rules of legal remedy. Legal remedy requests (objection) in respect of the european citizens’ initiative regarding the collection of statements of support and the verification of signatures may be submitted to the National Election Commission by citizens entitled to vote and included in the central register, as well as by any natural person, legal person or association without legal personality affected in the matter.
Objections have to be submitted so that they are received within 5 days from the date on which the breach of law was committed. The National Election Commission will take a decision as regards the objection in a period not exceeding 5 days after the date on which the objection was received. If the last day of that period does not fall on a working day, the period will expire on the next working day.
The objection must contain
a) the designation of the breach of law,
b) the evidence of the breach of law,
c) the name, address (registered address) of the person submitting the appeal or, if the address (registered address) is different, the postal address,
d) the personal identification number of the person submitting the objection or, if the citizen living abroad does not have a hungarian address and does not have a personal identification number, the type and number of the document certifying his/her hungarian citizenship and – in the case of an organisation – the court registration number.
The objection may contain the telefax number and the e-mail address of the person submitting the objection, and the name, telefax number or e-mail address of his authorized representative.
The objection may be revoked until a decision is taken by the National Election Commission, but the National Election Commission can continue the process ex officio.
Request for review may be submitted against the National Election Commission’s decision to the Curia.