Protecting the environment and defending citizens’ rights are the main concerns of the EP Petitions Committee, highlighted in its 2010 activity report adopted by Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs call for a dedicated web portal to be set up for petitions.
"Petitions must be a pillar of European citizenship”, said rapporteur Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL, ES) in the debate preceding the vote. He also stressed that "it is important to launch a debate on the limited application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights".
Environment: negligence of Member States
Most of the citizen’s complaints received in 2010 related 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” regarding the enforcement of EU environmental 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.
MEPs welcome the Commission’s decision to declare 2013 the ‘European Year of Citizenship’ to inform EU citizens of their rights. 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.
Parliament wants a dedicated web portal for petitions to 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.
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 resolution. MEPs also say this committee is the one that should represent Parliament at public hearings into citizens' initiatives that have gathered a million signatures. Initiatives that have not reached this number by the deadline should be referred to the Petitions Committee for further discussion, say 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 her or him directly.
The EP received 1,655 petitions in 2010, a 14 % drop from the 1,924 submitted in 2009. 653 petitions (39.5%) were declared inadmissible in 2010. Last year the environment continued to be the main topic raised by petitioners, followed by fundamental rights, the internal market and justice.
The largest 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.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution