Any EU citizen participation plan stumbles upon the scope and output of the EU. Few citizens get together with the motivation we urgently have to set an abstract framework for 28 member states to negotiate compromises in. Now!
The closer to home or wallet legislation comes, the more motivated citizens are to participate.
On my petitioning website, I see that half of the petitions are addressed to the local government, about very specific issues. The other half is more often about symbolic issues on the national level.
When citizens petition the national government about a specific, more technical, issue their 'participation’ is usually not spontaneous.
After some homework they found out they can not avoid the national government. Those citizens also tend to be already organised and more educated in some way.
When you see the petitioning on the EU level it is often a last resort to bypass some national government which is not listening. A kind of higher appeal.
The European Parliament can then investigate if it is about EU-law. The agenda-setting function petitions have on a local level is not there because member states take the initiative.
What if the European Parliament facilitates and promotes European petitions directed at member states? For example, citizens who want to protect the environment want to petition the member states with a car industry to adopt measures.
Citizens who see weak states underperforming can address their inefficiencies by proposing improvements. In other words, to create European participation we should be able to address all governments inside the EU.