Today, just two days before the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), one of the major innovations of the Lisbon Treaty, finally enters into force, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) held a joint conference entitled ‘Time to Act!’ In the opening session CoR President Mercedes Bresso and EESC President Staffan Nilsson hosted European Parliament Vice-President Georgios Papastamkos and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in considering how the most can be made of this new democratic institution. The initiative enables one million citizens who are nationals of at least one quarter of the EU’s member states, to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act in an area within the competences of the EU. Expertly moderated by Euractiv publisher Christophe Leclercq, the Conference went on to consider case studies of participatory democracy in France, Italy and Sweden; how the ECI could be promoted in the member states; and how the two Committees could provide important roles as filters and facilitators and to act, as Staffan Nilsson put it, as institutional mentors. There was a great buzz to this well-attended conference. We really are on the eve of something new.