About us

Initiative & Referendum Institute (IRI) Europe

The Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe (IRI Europe), founded in 2001, is a European think-tank dedicated to research and educate on procedures and practices of modern Direct Democracy.

As a non-partisan, non-profit association, the Institute's main mission is to develop insights into the theory and practice of modern Direct Democracy among politicians, the media, NGOs, academics and the public throughout Europe – and beyond. Since its establishment IRI Europe has assisted and advised the EU constitution drafters – first in the Convention, subsequently in the EU institutions and member states, the electorates across Europe and now in the Conference on the Future of Europe – in seizing the opportunity of developing democratic tools which are both issue-based and pan-European.

One key result of this work is the first transnational direct-democratic tool: the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), first established in 2011. By 2020 the rules and procedures of the ECI have been updated in a citizen-friendly manner.
IRI Europe is today an acknowledged research and educational institute focusing on the initiative and referendum process across Europe. With a comprehensive network of experts and correspondents throughout the region, the Institute is uniquely equipped to provide the know-how and the tools Europe (and the wider world) needs.

IRI Europe’s informational and educational materials include Guidebooks and Passports as well as publication series dedicated to the European Citizens´ Initiative.

In all its projects IRI Europe cooperates closely with partners from civil society, governmental institutions and international players. Beyond its European focus the Institute has developed a fully-fledged network of cooperations across the globe.

The Institute is led by journalists, politicians, academics and civil society experts from different political parties, backgrounds and countries. Our sister institute in the United States is working in the same way with a focus on America.

The Institute has an open approach to cooperation and has developed a far-reaching reputation as Europe’s Direct Democracy Think Tank. For further information please contact IRI´s president Bruno Kaufmann or secretary general Adrian Schmid