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Urgent Call to Protect European Democracy: Democracy Organizations Unite in Support of the European Citizens’ Initiative

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Urgent Call to Protect European Democracy: Democracy Organizations Unite in Support of the European Citizens’ Initiative


Cologne, 16 October 2023 — Today, a coalition of over 60 civil society organizations committed to promoting European democracy has sounded a resounding alarm over the jeopardy to the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) and the democratic principles it represents.

In an open letter addressed to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and the Members of the College of Commissioners, 60+ organizations urgently demand the immediate fulfillment of a commitment that, to date, remains unmet.

At the heart of this issue is the ECI "End the Cage Age," an initiative that collected and submitted 1.4 million signatures across the European Union in 2019, and which received a positive response from the Commission in June 2021. The Commission pledged to present a legislative proposal in its Work Program by the third quarter of 2023, addressing the phasing out and prohibition of cages for animals in farming, aligning with the initiative’s objectives.

This commitment was not only a response to the ECI's demands; it symbolized a commitment to the very essence of European democracy. However, as the Q3 deadline has passed and no visible progress on the proposal has been made, the credibility of the ECI, as the bedrock of European participatory democracy, is now at stake.

Daniela Vancic, European Program Manager of Democracy International, commented:

"This situation represents a concerning backpedaling on democratic promises, putting the credibility of the ECI at risk. It's not just bad news for European democracy; it sends the wrong signal to citizens and organizers who will be more hesitant about engaging with the ECI. European democracy cannot afford such setbacks."

The urgency to address this matter is further compounded by the impending European elections, only eight months away. As attacks on European democracy and rising Euro-scepticism continue, the need for steadfast commitment to democratic values has never been more critical.

In their call to action, the 60+ civil society organizations resoundingly echo the sentiment: "The Commission must stand by its word and, in doing so, protect European democracy by demonstrating responsiveness to its citizens' voices. The EU's credibility and the trust of its citizens in democratic processes are at stake."

Further information: 

Link to open letter signed by 60+ democracy organizations

Written commitment by the European Commission to End the Cage Age

Further background text on this action


For questions, contact:

Daniela Vancic,, +49 221 669 66531

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