Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Power to the people?

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A new EU initiative means that voters in the UK and other member states could soon have the opportunity to have a direct impact on creating new laws.

The EU is currently working with member states on implementing the so-called European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) by the beginning of 2012, following agreement between MEPs and the Council of Ministers at the end of 2010.

Under the proposal, citizens will be able to formally ask the European Commission to put forward a new law, if a million signatures can be gathered from people from at least seven member states.

However the Commission retains a number controls - and proposals for a new law may be subject to a "vetting panel" before being approved.

During a visit to the UK, the Commissioner behind the plans, Maros Sefcovic, spoke to BBC Democracy Live's Alasdair Rendall about how he hopes the ECI will give the EU's citizens real powers.

Watch MEPs debating the European Citizen's Initiative here.

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