Petitions − 15-06-2011 - 09:45
Protecting the environment and standing up for citizens’ rights are the major goals of the EP Petitions Committee, as highlighted in its 2010 activity report approved on Tuesday. MEPs also call for the committee to play a key role in dealing with citizens' initiatives and for a dedicated web portal to be set up for petitions.
The 2010 report provides an overview of the activities of the Petitions Committee. "This report has been adopted with a broad consensus among political groups. We believe that this Committee is the most suitable one to follow citizen's initiatives and that we need to deepen transparency and access to information in European institutions”, commented rapporteur Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL, ES) following the vote.
Environment: negligence of Member States
Most of the citizen’s complaints received in 2010 relate to environmental issues (e.g. when a national authority fails to protect special conservation areas). Here, MEPs “deplore the negligence displayed by certain Member States” when enforcing European environment laws. They also call on the Commission to monitor compliance with these rules more strictly at every stage of proceedings, not only when a final ruling has been given.
The Commission’s decision to declare 2013 the ‘European Year of Citizenship’, in order to inform EU citizens of their rights, is welcomed by MEPs. However, they regret that, despite the large number of petitions concerning the Charter of Fundamental Rights, “the Commission consistently refuses (…) to take action to prevent flagrant breaches” in this field.
Key role in dealing with citizen’s initiatives
The Petitions Committee is the most suitable body to follow up the European citizens' initiatives registered with the Commission, argues the draft resolution. MEPs also call for this committee to be the one that represents Parliament at public hearings into citizen’s initiatives that have gathered a million signatures. Initiatives that have not reached this number within the required deadline should be referred to the Petitions Committee for further discussion, say MEPs.
A dedicated web portal for petitions should be set up swiftly, with an interactive template and information on Parliament’s remit as well as links to alternative means of redress at European and national level, believe MEPs.
Any European Union citizen or resident may, individually or in association with others, submit a petition to the European Parliament on a subject which comes within the European Union's fields of activity and which affects them directly.
The EP received 1,655 petitions in 2010, a drop of 14% compared to the 1,924 submitted in 2009. 653 petitions (39.5%) were declared inadmissible in 2010. This shows that efforts should continue to be made to raise citizens’ awareness of the powers of the Petitions Committee, contend MEPs. Last year the environment continued to be the main topic raised by petitioners, followed by fundamental rights, the internal market and justice.
The biggest number of petitions focused on Spain, with Germany in third place followed by Italy, Romania and Poland. Petitions concerning the EU as a whole took second place. Germans remained the most active petitioners by nationality, followed by Spaniards, Italians, Romanians and Poles.
In the chair: Erminia Mazzoni (EPP, IT)
Rapporteur: Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL, ES)
Committee vote: 14.6.2011
Plenary vote: 7.7.2011
REF. : 20110614IPR21331