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The right of petition is a fundamental tool to guarantee the full participation of citizens ( CF Another brick to the construction of an equitable Europe: reinforce the partecipatory democracy process )

pdf mise en ligne :20 10 2008 ( NEA say… n° 55 )

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With the resolution of 23 September 2008 on the deliberations of the Committee on Petitions during 2007, the European Parliament give power to the process of construction of an Europe near to the citizens. The number of petitions in the last years is increased, and the European Union has to work to improve this instrument and allow that the citizens will able to do worth them right.    

Any citizen of the European Union, or resident in a Member State, may, individually or in association with others, submit a petition to the Parliament on a subject which comes within the European Union's fields of activity and which affects them directly. Any company, organizations or association with its headquarters in the European Union may also exercise this right of petition, which is guaranteed by the Treaty (Articles 21 and 194 of the Treaty establishing the European Union). A petition may have the form of a complaint or a request and may relate to issues of public or private interest. The petition may present an individual request, a complaint or observation concerning the application of EU law or an appeal to the European Parliament to adopt a position on a specific matter. Such petitions give to the European Parliament the opportunity of paying  attention to any infringement of an European citizen's rights by a Member States or local authorities or other institution.


  The importance of Petition as democracy medium.

The petition process is a very important tool, which allow citizens  to draw to the attention of the European Parliament's specific issues which are of direct concern to them covering the area of activity of the Union.

In the later years most of petitions concerned issues that people feel as very important for them, such as  the restitution of property (even though this subject remains essentially one of national competence), the most sensitive matter of child custody(on which it is extremely difficult to take action),  the case of the "Lettori", the foreign language teachers in Italy,( which continues to be unresolved despite two decisions by the Court of Justice and the support of the Commission and the Committee on Petitions for their case and their grievances).


The top-ten general topics covered by the petitions received in 2007 were as follows:

Environmental issues, water, etc


Fundamental rights




Social Affairs & Discrimination


Internal Market & Consumers






Transport issues & Infrastructure


Property & Restitution


Education & Cultural issues



More specifically, petitioners expressed concern about the weakness of Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the Water Framework Directive, the Drinking Water Directive, the Waste Directives, the Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive, the Money Laundering Directive and other general matters, including pollution and climate change, individual and private property rights, financial services, free movement and rights of workes including pension rights and other social provisions of professional qualifications, freedom of establishment and allegations of discrimination on grounds of nationally, gender or membership of a minority.


A single seat for EP in Brussels? Parliament should state its view  

The report records that the petitions considered by the committee on Petitions in 2007 included  “the so-called “One Seat” petition, which was supported by 1,25 million EU citizens and which called for a single seat for the European Parliament, to be located in Brussels”. It adds “in October  2007 the President referred the petition back to the committee, which subsequently called for Parliament to give its opinion on this question, bearing in mind that the seat of the institution is governed by the provisions of the Treaty and that the Member State have the responsibility for taking a decision on this matter”.  

Recognizing the importance of this process, the European Parliament welcomes the close collaboration between the Committee on Petitions and the services of the Commission and the Ombudsman and the climate of cooperation that exists between the institutions which seek to respond to the concerns of EU citizens.


The petition near to the citizen

Nevertheless the Parliament recognized (FR) (EN) that some problematics still exist. In fact, it reiterates its requests to its Secretary-General to conduct an urgent review of the "Citizens Portal" on Parliament's website with the objective of enhancing the visibility of the portal as regards the right of petition and to ensure that citizens are provided with the means to append their signatures electronically in support of petitions. Moreover considers that the present procedure for registration of petitions unduly delays their examination, and is concerned that this may be perceived as displaying a certain lack of sensitivity towards petitioners; urges its Secretary-General, therefore, to take the necessary measures to transfer the registration of petitions from the Directorate-General of the Presidency to the secretariat of the committee responsible.

Finally expresses its concern and dismay at reports by petitioners that, even when they have obtained the support of the Committee on Petitions on the substance of their petition, they too often have great difficult experience in obtaining any compensation from the authorities and national courts.

On the other hand, the Parliament fully recognized that the petitions process, as recognized in the Treaty, is nevertheless primarily concerned with obtaining non-judicial remedies and solutions with regard to the problems raised by EU citizens through the political process and, in this context, welcomes the fact that in many instances satisfactory outcomes are achieved.

Finally, as the European Parliament itself underlined in this declaration, the right of petition is a fundamental tool to guarantee the full participation of citizens to the construction of effectively democratic European Union . Nevertheless, this process needs to be improved in order to bring the European institution near to the people's demands.


Texts adopted by Parliament

Tuesday, 23 September 2008 – Brussels



                                                                                                   Alessandro Romano

                                                                              Università degli Studi di Napoli “L'Orientale”

                                                                                           Napoli – Italia