Into the New Millennium
The Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe was founded in 2001. At this time it became evident that Europe needs competence centre for all issues linked to the introduction, development and practice of modern direct democracy. Founded by individuals and organisations from the political, administrative, academic and civil society life, IRI Europe early took a role in the emerging European constitutional process.
Since these early days, our assistance and support for a proper transnational polity in Europe with direct democratic rights have played a key role in the institute's activities. IRI was instrumental in facilitating an informal working group on direct democracy during the constitutional convention (2002-2003) and followed up this work on a European Citizen Initiative procedure with research, consultation and publication activities.
Another key activity of the early years was a comprehensive assessment on which procedures and practices are available across Europe and worldwide. Based on this work, the institute in 2005 launched a comprehensive educational programme including guidebooks, handbooks, study trips and country programmes.
In 2006 the IRI Headquarters moved from Amsterdam/Netherlands to Marburg/Germany, which contributed to strengthened links with the research community. In 2007 IRI also opened project and administrative offices in Brussels/Belgium and Bülach/Switzerland.