The long route from transversal politics to the European Parliament – Ideas for strengthening the participatory instrument of the European Citizens Initiatives (ECI) based on the case of #StopGlobalWarming

Research Paper by Claudia Basta, Marco Perduca, Virginia Fiume, Marco Cappato



Scope of this contribution is providing inputs in this direction by discussing the recently concluded ECI “A price on carbon to fight climate change”

The phenomenon of transnational activism in the European Union is attracting increasing attention in literature and in the respective political debate. Often, the transversal relevance of the relevant campaigns unite individuals, organizations and political parties of diverse backgrounds and worldviews. Relevant transnational, transversal and trans-party political initiatives can be therefore associated with the notion of transversal politics. Developed in the feminist stream of political studies, the notion of transversal politics is alternative to that of identity politics for it recognizes the inherent epistemological pluralism of “coalition politics in which the differential positionings of the individuals and collectives involved will be recognized, as well as the value systems which underly their struggles.” (Yuval-Davis, 1999).

Such inherent pluralism, its recognition from the side of those involved in coalition politics, and the resulting transition from identity to transversal politics are the conceptual lenses through which this contribution discusses the “single-issue-based coalitions” constituted by the European Citizens Initiatives (ECIs). Established in 2009 in response to the democratic deficit of the European Union in the framework of the Treaty of Lisbon, the ECIs constitute the participatory instrument by means of which European citizens can convert transnational political goals into a set of policy proposals to the European Parliament and the European Commission. However, the capacities required to complete the long journey from the formulation to the actual admission of such proposals to the parliamentary debate make the ECI a scarcely known and challenging to use instrument. Improving the relevant institutional design by drawing on the ‘lessons learnt’ from the multiple ECIs initiated in the past years is therefore essential for closing the gap between what seems an increasingly active and transversal European citizenry on the one hand, and the effective representativity of the European policy-making process on the other.

Scope of this contribution is providing inputs in this direction by discussing the recently concluded ECI “A price on carbon to fight climate change”. Launched in 2019 by the pan-European movement EUmans, the ECI was audited at the end of 2021 by the European Parliament Petition Committee. The aim of this study is distilling some ‘lessons learnt’ from the relevant journey that may inform future reform of this important, but still underexploited instrument of participation of European citizens in their supranational policy-making process. Our conclusions provide recommendations on how to articulate future ECIs in ways conducive to a successful outcome. Further recommendations address the European Commission in regard to improving the accessibility of the ECI instrument from the side of European citizens.


About the author

Claudia BASTA (1976) is a Scientist at the Dutch national institute for the living environment and Research Fellow at the department of Geosciences of the University of Utrecht, where she teaches theory and methodology of environmental and spatial planning evaluation. She has obtained her PhD in risk governance from Delft University of Technology with a thesis on comparative risk assessment practices in the European Union, and a post-doc in the ethics of technology from the 4TU Centre of Excellence for Ethics and Technology of the same university. Her broad-based research interests revolve around transdisciplinarity questions in the social-environmental sciences. As a volunteer for the international association Science for Democracy, she works on the theme of Open Science on questions of equitable access to scientific research from the side of disadvantaged researchers. Corresponding Author. Utrecht University, Department of Geosciences, Human Geography and Spatial Planning Group; Science for Democracy, Steering Committee.

Marco PERDUCA, Science for Democracy, Founder
Virginia FIUME, EUmans, Campaigns Director
Marco CAPPATO,  EUmans, Founder

#Transnationalactivism #transversalpolitics #Europeandemocraticdeficit #EuropeanCitizensInitiatives #EuropeanCitizensAssemblies