BRUSSELS - The European Union will launch a program next week allowing citizens to propose legislation as long as they can get a million signatures on a petition, a democratic drive that some opponents have labeled a "fig leaf."
Under the scheme, which starts on April 1 and is dubbed the European citizens' initiative, the EU will be obliged to consider legislative proposals that have sufficient signatures and support in at least seven of the union's 27 member states.
The plan was drawn up by the European Commission, the EU's executive and chief initiator of legislation, as a way of trying to make the bloc more democratically accountable. Surveys often show EU citizens think there is a democratic deficit.
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