Procedure : 2016/2146(INI)
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A8-0366/2016

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PV 15/12/2016 - 3
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P8_TA(2016)0512

REPORT     
PDF 761kWORD 199k
2.12.2016
PE 585.817v04-00 A8-0366/2016

on the activities of the Committee on Petitions 2015

(2016/2146(INI))

Committee on Petitions

Rapporteur: Ángela Vallina

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the activities of the Committee on Petitions 2015

(2016/2146(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the outcome of the Committee on Petitions’ deliberations,

–  having regard to Articles 10 and 11 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

  having regard to Protocol No 1 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on the role of national parliaments in the European Union,

  having regard to Protocol No 2 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

–  having regard to the significance of the right to petition and the importance for Parliament of being immediately aware of the specific concerns of European Union citizens or residents, as provided for in Articles 24 and 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 228 TFEU,

–  having regard to Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union concerning the right to petition the European Parliament,

–  having regard to the provisions of the TFEU relating to the infringement procedure and in particular Articles 258 and 260 thereof,

  having regard to Rules 52 and 216(8) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Petitions (A8-0366/2016),

A.  whereas the purpose of the annual report on the activities of the Committee on Petitions is to present an analysis of the petitions received in 2015 and of relations with other institutions, and to present an accurate picture of the objectives achieved in 2015;

B.  whereas 1 431 petitions were received in 2015, 47% down on the figure for 2014, when 2 714 petitions were lodged with Parliament; whereas 943 petitions were considered admissible; of which 424 were quickly examined and concluded after duly informing petitioners on their respective issues of concern, and whereas 519 petitions remain open for discussion in the Committee on Petitions; whereas 483 petitions were declared inadmissible;

C.  whereas the number of petitions received is modest when compared to the EU's total population, which indicates that the vast majority of EU citizens and residents are unfortunately not yet aware of the right to petition, or of its possible usefulness as a means of drawing the attention of the EU institutions and the Member States to matters which affect and concern them, and come within the Union's field of activity;

D.  whereas 483 petitions were not considered admissible in 2015 and whereas there is still widespread confusion about the EU’s fields of activity as is shown by the high number of inadmissible petitions received (33.8%); whereas to remedy this situation, communication with citizens needs to be encouraged and improved and the different areas of responsibility – European, national and local – need to be explained;

E.  whereas each petition is considered and examined carefully, efficiently and transparently;

F.  whereas petitioners tend to be citizens engaged in safeguarding fundamental rights and in the improvement and future wellbeing of our societies; whereas the experience of these citizens in regard to the processing of their petitions is very influential in determining their perception of the EU institutions and respect for the right to petition contained in EU law;

G.  whereas the European Parliament is the only EU institution directly elected by citizens, and whereas the right to petition offers them the means to draw the attention of their elected representatives to matters that concern them; whereas unfortunately the committee on Petitions does not have sufficient inquiry capacity in its own right at present;

H.  whereas, under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in order to promote good governance and ensure the participation of civil society, the Union’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies must conduct their work as openly as possible;

I.  whereas the right to petition has to be a key element for a participatory democracy in which the right of every citizen to play a direct part in the democratic life of the Union is effectively protected; whereas genuine democratic and participatory governance should ensure full transparency, effective protection of fundamental rights and practical involvement of the public in decision-making processes; whereas petitions enable the European Parliament to listen, to give information, and to help to solve problems affecting its citizens, while also prompting the other EU institutions and institutions in the Member States to do their utmost in this respect within their respective spheres of competence; whereas the impact of EU legislation on the daily life of those living in the EU should be assessed through the aforementioned petitions;

J.  whereas confidence in the system and in the European project as a whole has been dented by recent events in the United Kingdom, the humanitarian refugee crisis, the very serious social and economic impact of austerity measures, the inability to resolve the financial crisis in a way that guarantees all citizens a free and dignified life and full protection of their fundamental rights, and the rise in xenophobia and racism throughout Europe; whereas the Committee on Petitions has the responsibility and the huge challenge of maintaining and strengthening constructive dialogue with EU citizens and residents on European issues;

K.  whereas the Committee on Petitions is best able to show citizens what the European Union does for them and what solutions it can provide at European, national or local level; whereas the Committee on Petitions can do significant work in explaining and possibly proving the successes and benefits of the European project;

L.  whereas the right to petition should enhance the European Parliament’s capacity to react to and help resolve problems relating mainly to the application and transposition of EU law; whereas petitions constitute a valuable source of first-hand information based on citizens’ own experiences which help to detect potential violations and deficiencies in how EU legislation is implemented at national level and, ultimately, monitored by the Commission in its role of guardian of the Treaties; whereas petitions that are based on the EU’s fields of activity and fulfil the admissibility criteria are a basic tool in the early detection of late transposition and actual enforcement of EU law by Member States; whereas, through petitions, EU citizens can complain about failures to implement EU law and help detect breaches of EU law;

M.  whereas, therefore, petitions are very important for the legislative process as they provide other Parliament committees with useful and direct input for their legislative work in their respective fields; whereas petitions are not solely the responsibility of the Committee on Petitions, but should rather be a shared endeavour of all Parliament committees;

N.  whereas, through petitions, EU citizens and residents can complain about poor implementation of EU law; whereas in so doing citizens act as a useful source of information when it comes to detecting breaches of EU law;

O.  whereas besides providing relevant feedback on the application of existing legislation, petitions can also help to identify loopholes in EU law and to assess the impacts of absence of regulation in certain fields, hence becoming a trigger for further legislative efforts;

P.  whereas the Committee on Petitions has made greater use of the specific committee tools at its disposal, such as oral questions and short resolutions, so as to give visibility to the different issues of concern to citizens, or the sending of questions and resolutions to the plenary of Parliament, such as the resolutions on mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in Spain or the best interests of children in Europe;

Q.  whereas in 2015 petitions lodged by citizens were processed faster and with greater efficiency, the timespan involved in correspondence with petitioners having been reduced; whereas the secretariat has made a noteworthy effort in order to achieve this improvement;

R.  whereas petitioners actively contribute to the work of the committee, providing additional first-hand information to members of the committee and to the Commission and representatives of the Member States who are present; whereas petitioners, by taking part in these discussions and presenting their petitions along with more detailed information, contribute to establishing a fluid and constructive dialogue with Members of the European Parliament and with the European Commission; whereas in 2015, 191 petitioners attended, and were involved in, the committee’s deliberations; whereas, although this number seems relatively low, the meetings of the Committee on Petitions are broadcast, enabling petitioners to follow live discussions both in real time and afterwards by means of internet streaming;

S.  whereas a specific way of handling petitions relating to the welfare of children has been adopted and a special working group created on the issue, and whereas the group was constituted on 17 September 2015, having elected Eleonora Evi as its chair;

T.  whereas a petition is often filed at the same time as a complaint to the Commission, which could lead to the initiation of infringement proceedings; whereas in 2015 the European Parliament alerted the Commission, through petitions and questions, of deficiencies in the way that some Member States were applying and implementing certain EU laws;

U.  whereas these petitions resulted in complaints on environmental issues; whereas the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Finland regarding the transposition of the Directive on public access to environmental information; whereas in a further five cases regarding the environment the Commission initiated bilateral talks with the Member States concerned; whereas the cases were related to shale gas, management of wolves, the incorrect application of the Directive on strategic environmental assessment and compliance of national legislation with the requirements of the Directive on public access to environmental information;

V.  whereas petitions filed by citizens also deal with issues of justice and judicial cooperation, in one instance motivating the Commission to initiate a bilateral dialogue with a Member State on its restrictions regarding change of name after marriage;

W.  whereas the Commission also initiated bilateral talks following several petitions involving a number of Member States on property taxes and local residence tax paid by students;

X.  whereas the Commission intends to strengthen the application of EU legislation on the basis of transposition and systematic checks on compliance of national legislation; whereas the Commission has stated that it will take appropriate measures, including launching new EU pilot cases and infringement procedures, when it detects possible breaches of EU law;

Y.  whereas the involvement of Parliament in these procedures implies additional scrutiny of the investigative work of the competent EU institutions; whereas no petition should be closed while it is being investigated by the Commission;

Z.  whereas the Commission publishes, through the annual report on monitoring the application of European Union law, action taken with respect to breaches of EU law and discloses information on infringement procedures in the form of press releases; whereas these decisions on infringement procedures can be consulted in the Commission’s database on the Europa website; whereas more detailed information from the Commission in its dealings with the Committee on Petitions in cases involving petitions would improve transparency and enhance collaboration between the two institutions;

AA.  whereas the key issues of concern raised in petitions pertain to a wide range of issues, such as environmental protection (in particular, waste water treatment, waste management, river basin management, gas and hydrocarbon exploration and extraction), breaches of consumer rights, the application of justice (in particular, custody rights regarding minors), fundamental rights (in particular, the rights of the child, of people with disabilities and of minorities), free movement of persons, discrimination, immigration, employment and animal welfare;

AB.  whereas the web portal of the Committee on Petitions, which began to operate in late 2014, is up and running, but not yet finalised; whereas the portal aims to provide EU citizens and residents with an electronic tool that enables them to file and continuously track petitions, electronically sign their own petitions and add their support for other petitioners whose issues are of interest to them; whereas the shortcomings in some basic functionalities, such as the search engine, persisted throughout 2015 and until very recently undermined the role of the portal as an interactive space of exchange among citizens; whereas this problem has finally been resolved;

AC.  whereas the portal was designed to make the petition procedure more transparent and interactive, and makes for more effective administration in the interest of petitioners, Members and the general public; whereas the second phase of the project, intended mainly to enhance the administrative handling of petitions, but also enabling real-time follow-up of petitions by the original petitioners and the latter’s supporters, made no substantial progress in 2015, whereas according to the initial schedule it should already have been completed by then;

AD.  whereas successive delays in the subsequent phases of the project have generated an additional workload in the secretariat of the Committee on Petitions, due to the need to manually upload the relevant files into the various databases; whereas there are still petitions pending for upload, since only open petitions received in 2013, 2014 and 2015 have been included in the portal so far, and work is currently under way on uploading petitions received in 2016;

AE.  whereas certain deficiencies have been remedied, particularly in the search function and regarding petitioner confidentiality, and whereas work has been under way as scheduled from the second half of 2016 to make the service more useful and visible to citizens;

AF.  whereas the admissibility of petitions is based on the criteria laid down in Article 227 of the TFEU; whereas the concept of field of activity of the Union goes much beyond the long list of competences; whereas a declaration of inadmissibility can be subject to judicial review if not duly justified in accordance with these criteria;

AG.  whereas the national courts have primary responsibility for ensuring that EU legislation is properly implemented in the Member States; whereas, in this context, a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice is a useful tool available to national judicial systems; whereas this procedure has been little used, if at all, in some Member States; whereas petitions provide an alternative and independent avenue of inquiry and checks on compliance with EU legislation, and whereas these two alternative procedures should therefore not be mutually exclusive;

AH.  whereas the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) should be an important tool for enabling citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, and its potential must be exploited fully, while ensuring that citizens are fully informed as to matters of EU competence and national competence; whereas the main differences between the ECI and the right to petition should be better communicated to citizens; whereas Parliament has a specific responsibility in making this instrument a real success; whereas, as emerged from statements in the public hearing of 22 February 2015, there is a widespread feeling on the part of organisations registering an ECI that the administrative barriers need to be removed if the best possible results with regard to participation by citizens are to be achieved;

AI.  whereas the Committee on Petitions is of the opinion that, three years after the entry into force on 1 April 2012 of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011, its implementation should be assessed in order to identify weaknesses and propose viable concrete solutions for its swift revision so that its functioning can be improved;

AJ.  whereas in 2015, owing to the workload of the Committee on Petitions, only one fact-finding visit took place for petitions for which an inquiry was ongoing during 2015; whereas the fact-finding visit to the United Kingdom on 5 and 6 November 2015 on the issue of adoption without parental consent gave delegation members a deeper understanding of the situation as they were able to discuss the problem with representatives of the different UK institutions involved in the case;

AK.  whereas in 2016, once the workload stabilised, three fact-finding visits were carried out with regard to petitions for which an inquiry was ongoing in 2016; whereas the visits are a specific prerogative of the Committee and a fundamental part of its work, which entails interacting with petitioners and the authorities of the Member States concerned; whereas members of the Committee delegations take part in all activities, including the drafting of the final report, on an equal footing;

AL.  whereas the Committee on Petitions has responsibilities with regard to the Office of the European Ombudsman, which is responsible for investigating complaints from EU citizens and residents about possible maladministration within the EU institutions and bodies, and about which the Committee also produces an Annual Report on the basis of the European Ombudsman’s own Annual Report;

AM.  whereas on 26 May 2015 Emily O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman, presented her Annual Report for 2014 to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament; whereas on 23 June 2015 the Ombudsman presented her report at the meeting of the Committee on Petitions, the body responsible for relations with her institution;

AN.  whereas the Committee on Petitions is a member of the European Network of Ombudsmen (ENO), which includes national and regional ombudsmen, petitions committees and similar bodies of the Member States of the European Union, the candidate countries for EU membership, and other countries in the European Economic Area and/or the Schengen area; whereas the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament is a full member of this network, which currently has 94 offices in 36 countries;

AO.  whereas each petition is carefully assessed and dealt with and each petitioner must receive a reply within a reasonable period of time;

AP.  whereas all petitioners should have the possibility of directly presenting their cases to the Committee on Petitions;

1.  Stresses that the right to petition should enhance the European Parliament’s capacity to react, helping to resolve problems relating mainly to the transposition and implementation of EU legislation, as petitions which are based on the EU’s fields of activity and fulfil the admissibility criteria constitute a useful source of information for detecting potential violations and breaches in the implementation of EU legislation; invites the Commission to make greater use of its powers when it comes to ensuring effective implementation of EU legislation, for instance by pursuing swifter use of the infringement procedure under Articles 258 and 260 TFEU;

2.  Stresses the work that the Committee on Petitions carries out in listening to, and helping to solve, problems affecting citizens; believes that petitions can help to better assess the impact that EU legislation has on people’s daily lives by acting as a bridge between citizens and the institutions;

3.  Highlights the fact that the Committee on Petitions has the opportunity and the huge challenge of engaging in a trustworthy and fruitful dialogue with citizens, together with the possibility of bringing the EU’s institutions closer to its citizens; notes that it should help to promote participatory democracy; considers that in order to fulfil this purpose it is crucial to provide an adequate response to petitions, in terms of both the timing and the quality of the answer;

4.  Recalls that the equal and proportionate representation of petitioners' nationalities in the committee's public debates should be respected; in order to strengthen the European dimension of the committee, proper and fair representation of all Member States in its public debates should be encouraged;

5.  Stresses that petitions are also important for the legislative process, as they detect existing loopholes and deficiencies in the transposition of Community legislation and provide other Parliament committees with useful and direct input for their legislative work in their respective fields; welcomes the increased interaction of the Committee on Petitions with the other parliamentary committees, as well as a more frequent presence of matters related to petitions in plenary; considers that petitions are not solely the responsibility of the Committee on Petitions, but should be a shared endeavour on the part of all Parliament’s committees; applauds the intention to establish an informal petitions network within Parliament, with the participation of Members representing every Parliament committee, in order to ensure smooth and effective coordination of petition work; believes that the network must enable a better understanding of the role of petitions in parliamentary work, and strengthen cooperation between the committees in matters raised by petitioners; invites all the parliamentary committees concerned to pay due attention to the petitions forwarded to them and to undertake the efforts needed to provide the information necessary for petitions to be processed properly;

6.  Acknowledges that Parliament also has a crucial political role to play as regards the Commission's enforcement actions, by scrutinising the annual reports on monitoring the implementation of EU law and adopting relevant parliamentary resolutions; calls on the Commission to take account of the resolutions tabled in Parliament by the PETI Committee, which identify specific application and implementation gaps in EU law on the basis of petitions and call on the Commission to take appropriate action and report back to Parliament on its follow-up; calls, moreover, on the Council and Parliament to take specific action in the adoption of Regulation 2013/0140/COD on exemption of Drosophila melanogaster from veterinary checks at EU external borders, as suggested by Nobel Prize laureates (biochemistry professors) in Petition 1358/2011;

7.  Welcomes the fact that in 2015 the time taken to process petitions fell, but maintains nonetheless that the secretariat of the Committee on Petitions is in immediate need of greater technical resources and more staff in order to guarantee diligent examination and a further reduction in the time taken to process petitions, while ensuring the quality of their treatment;

8.  Continues to consider it a particular obligation to ensure that the inadmissibility or closure of petitions on account of their being unfounded must be carefully justified vis-à-vis the petitioners;

9.  Notes that the Commission is involved with, and committed to, the petition process and that it responds as quickly as possible to new petitions forwarded to it by Parliament; points out that Commission replies are usually detailed and pertain to the petitions for which it has jurisdiction; recalls, however, that on many occasions the Commission does not provide any new information in its replies to petitions for which a review has been requested owing to a change in their status and context; regrets the occasions when the Commission focuses essentially on procedural aspects and does not enter into the substance of the issue; reminds the Commission that petitions that raise a potential breach of EU law can only be closed after their proper analysis has been concluded; notes the Commission’s commitment to sending generally competent officials to meetings of the Committee on Petitions, as the quality of the overall treatment of petitions improves when the highest-ranking officials available represent the Commission in the debates; regrets that during the committee meetings the Commission’s answers are generally limited to the content of the official reply sent to the committee and do not provide any new or relevant information that might enable a solution to the issues raised; notes that the written responses are taken seriously into account, as are explanations given during the oral debates held by the Committee on Petitions;

10.  Considers that in its role as guardian of the treaties, particularly when it comes to environmental matters, the Commission should go beyond a mere formal examination of procedural compliance and focus more on the actual content of the core issue; recalls the precautionary principle and the ultimate spirit of the EU environmental legislation of preventing irreversible damage to ecologically sensitive areas, and urges the Commission to adopt an approach that allows it to make use of its powers and prerogatives on an ex-ante basis;

11.  Will take greater care in future to ensure that the Commission reports regularly to Parliament on the progress of infringement proceedings which have been brought against individual Member States, in order to facilitate better cooperation and to make it possible to inform the petitioners concerned about progress at an early stage;

12.  Considers that, in the interests of transparency and in a spirit of faithful cooperation between the EU institutions, and pursuant to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, upon request and where required the Commission should provide Parliament with a synthesis of the individual cases related to EU Pilot procedures; recalls previous requests made by the Committee on Petitions to ensure access to EU Pilot and infringement procedure documents, as petitions frequently lead to the initiation of such procedures; reiterates its call on the Commission to inform the Committee on Petitions of developments in infringement proceedings directly linked to petitions; recognises the need to ensure maximum transparency in the disclosure of information concerning EU Pilot procedures and infringement procedures that have already ended;

13.  Considers that the necessary information concerning infringement procedures initiated as a result of inquiries related to petitions should be provided to Parliament in a timely fashion, and particularly upon the request of the Committee on Petitions;

14.  Considers it essential to improve cooperation with national parliaments and their relevant committees and with Member State governments, particularly in order to help ensure that the petition is dealt with by the relevant and competent authorities; repeats its call for a structured dialogue to be launched with Member States in the form of regular meetings with the relevant national parliament committees; is pleased that a delegation from the German Bundestag’s Committee on Petitions was present at the committee meeting held on 4 May 2015; encourages the representatives of Member States and of local and/or regional authorities concerned to attend the meetings of the Committee on Petitions; reiterates the importance of the participation of Council and Commission representatives at meetings and hearings of the Committee on Petitions;

15.  Acknowledges the impact of the effective application of EU law on strengthening the credibility of the EU institutions; recalls that the right of petition enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty is an important element of European citizenship and a real barometer for monitoring the application of EU law and identifying possible loopholes; calls on the PETI Committee to set up a regular meeting with the national committees on petitions in order to raise awareness of European citizens' concerns in the EU and in the Member States and to further strengthen their rights through better European law-making and implementation;

16.  Reiterates the call made in the report on the activities of the Committee on Petitions 2013(1) for an enhanced structured dialogue to be launched with Member States, for example by holding regular meetings with members of national petitions committees or other competent authorities; calls on the Member States to take note of the recommendations made in the reports of fact-finding missions and during dialogues;

17.  Is pleased that in 2015 191 citizens presented their petitions directly to the Committee on Petitions; recalls and supports the increased use of videoconferencing or any other means that enables petitioners to become actively involved in the work of the Committee on Petitions when they cannot be physically present;

18.  Notes the Commission’s restrictive and narrow interpretation in relation to Article 51(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights which states, inter alia, that the Charter is addressed to the Member States ‘only when they are implementing Union law’; notes that Article 51(2) of the Charter states that the Charter ‘does not extend the field of application of Union law beyond the powers of the Union’; urges for a broader interpretation of the scope of application of the Charter, and for the pertinence of this article to be ultimately reassessed in future revisions of the Charter and the treaties; emphasises that nothing prevents Member States from engaging in a full application of the provisions of the Charter in their national legislation in order to ensure the protection of the fundamental rights of their citizens beyond the implementation of Union law, and reminds them that they are also bound by other international obligations;

19.  Regrets that petitioners are still not sufficiently informed about the grounds for declaring a petition inadmissible;

20.  Deplores the strict and restrictive way in which the Commission has interpreted Article 51 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights with its stipulation that ‘the provisions of the [...] Charter are addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law; recalls that, owing to the existence of Article 51 of the Charter, the expectations of citizens often go beyond what the Charter’s legal provisions strictly allow for and are often unmet, precisely because of this strict and restrictive interpretation; calls on the Commission to adopt a new approach that is more consistent with those expectations;

21.  Regrets that citizens of Poland and the United Kingdom are still not protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

22.  Stresses that in January 2015 two Members were appointed as representative members of the Committee on Petitions in the structures of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) and that they took part in the analysis of the preliminary report of the European Union and the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27-28 August 2015; points; points to the important ongoing work carried out by the Committee on Petitions in the context of the application of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; duly notes that 2015 was a very significant year in that for the first time a United Nations agency reviewed the fulfilment of human rights obligations in the EU; is pleased to note that a United Nations committee had the opportunity to hear all the details regarding the protection provided by the Committee on Petitions; underscores that the Commission has begun to incorporate the concluding observations by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into the petition treatment process(2); is pleased to note that the public hearing ‘Protecting the rights of people with disabilities, from the perspective of petitions received’ organised by the Committee on Petitions on 15 October 2015 was highly accessible; draws attention to the importance of the findings of the study commissioned by Policy Department C entitled ‘The protection role of the Committee on Petitions in the context of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’; considers it important that the Committee on Petitions continues to organise events focusing on petitions in the field of disability; calls for the capacity of the Committee on Petitions and its secretariat to be enhanced so as to enable it to properly fulfil its protection role; calls for the establishment of a designated officer responsible for the processing of disability-related issues; notes the committee’s significant follow-up action in 2015 with regard to disability in relation to more specific topics such as the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, the unblocking of the anti-discrimination directive, exemption from customs duties for certain products designed to promote the cultural, educational or scientific advancement of persons with disabilities or family caregivers;

23.  Urges for a prompt ratification at EU level of the Marrakech Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled, regardless of the conflict over competences before the CJEU; recalls that in its Concluding Observations in September 2015 the CPRD Committee pointed out some deficiencies within the EU as regards full compliance with the convention; notes that the EU is required to swiftly adopt an amended European Accessibility Act that includes effective and accessible enforcement and complaint mechanisms; notes the requirement to decouple the roles of the Commission by removing it from the independent monitoring framework, in order to ensure that the framework has adequate resources to perform its functions;

24.  Stresses the wide range of subjects raised in the petitions filed by citizens, such as fundamental rights, child welfare, the rights of persons with disabilities, rights of persons belonging to minorities, rights of children, the internal market, environmental law, labour relations, migration policies, trade agreements, public health issues, transport, animal rights and discrimination;

25.  Emphasises the sensitive character of the petitions relating to children's rights, as in such cases there is a need to urgently and adequately respond to petitioners' concerns while preserving the children's best interests, in the context of the fact-finding visits that the PETI Committee may organise when investigating petitions;

26.  Believes that the holding of public hearings is an important way of examining problems raised by petitioners which fall within the EU fields of activity in greater depth, as well as general aspects of the functioning of the EU and the underlying shortcomings therein; draws attention to the public hearings held on 26 February 2015 with the Committee on Constitutional Affairs on the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), on 23 June 2015 on the Right to Petition, on 15 October 2015 on the Protection of the Rights of People with Disabilities, on 11 May 2015, with three other committees, on the European Citizens' Initiative ‘Stop Vivisection’, and also regards as useful the workshop held on 1 December 2015 together with the Committee on Legal Affairs on cross-border adoptions;

27.  Considers that the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is a new political right for citizens as well as a relevant agenda-setting tool for participatory democracy in the European Union, allowing citizens to be directly and actively involved in projects and processes that affect them, the potential of which must unquestionably be exploited to the full and significantly enhanced in order to achieve the best results and to encourage as many EU citizens as possible to participate in the further development of the European integration process; likewise considers that it must be among the EU’s priority objectives to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights, of democratic legitimacy and of the transparency of its institutions; reminds the Commission of the need to follow up on the recommendations made in the European Parliament resolution of 28 October 2015 on the European Citizens’ Initiative(3) in order to ensure that the right to present a European Citizens’ Initiative is properly implemented; reaffirms its commitment to being proactively involved in holding public hearings for successful initiatives; undertakes to give priority, at institutional level, to the effectiveness of this participative process and to ensuring due legislative follow-up;

28.  Regrets the fact that the Commission considers that it is too early to revise Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of 1 April 2012, which entered into force three years ago; considers that it is necessary to thoroughly evaluate its implementation in order to resolve all the possible deficiencies identified and to propose workable solutions with a view to revising it soon, ensuring that the procedures and conditions required for the ECI are genuinely clear, simple, easily applicable and proportionate; welcomes the Commission’s report of 31 March 2015 on the ECI, and the European Ombudsman’s Decision OI/9/2013/TN, and calls on the Commission to ensure, in its revision of this instrument, that the ECI provides actual input to the Union in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and that all the appropriate legal measures are taken with a view to providing proper follow-up when an ECI is deemed to have been completed successfully; calls on the Commission, in view of the various weaknesses identified, to present a proposal for reform of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 as soon as possible;

29.  Draws attention to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in Spain(4) in the light of the petitions received, concerning which Parliament issued a series of recommendations for the proper application of EU mortgage legislation and combating banking abuses; calls on the Commission to supervise closely the implementation in all Member States of Directive 2014/17/EU on credit agreements and Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts, and to share best practice in order to improve protection of citizens in financial difficulties;

30.  Is concerned with the evidence of shortcomings on proper access to justice in certain Member States unveiled as a result of the processing of petitions; considers that this is an essential issue to be addressed without delay in order to guarantee proper democratic functioning of the Union and the exercise of fundamental rights by its citizens and residents; considers that the Union should set an example by deploying the pillar of the Aarhus Convention on access to justice on environmental matters;

31.  Draws attention to its resolution of 21 January 2016 on the activities of the Committee on Petitions 2014 and to its resolution of 25 February 2016 on the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman 2014;

32.  Welcomes the resumption of a more normal level of activity in the field of fact-finding visits, and expects that the full potential of this specific prerogative of the Committee on Petitions will be exploited in the upcoming years until the very end of the legislative period; underlines the importance of the Working Documents produced after each visit, including specific recommendations, and urges the different authorities concerned to take them into due consideration; considers that the degree of compliance with these recommendations should be periodically appraised;

33.  Highlights the work done in 2015 by the Committee on Petitions to provide petitioners with a web portal through which they can register, submit a petition, download accompanying documents and add their support to petitions already considered admissible; underscores the updating of the portal to which the petitions registered in 2013, 2014 and 2015 have been uploaded; is pleased to note that the new search, add support features and petitioner confidentiality features have been renovated and upgraded;

34.  Recalls the steps still needed to conclude the remaining project phases of the petitions web portal, whereby petitioners will be able to receive real-time information on the status of their petition and be automatically notified of changes in the processing procedure such as the declaration of admissibility, the reception of a response from the Commission or the inclusion of their petition in the agenda of a committee meeting and the web-streaming link, and provide contact with the secretariat of the Committee on Petitions for clear, direct information; underlines that the web portal is a crucial information source for EU citizens, and that information on the lifecycle of the petition should therefore be provided;

35.  Draws attention to the adoption of Regulation 910/2014/EU on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transaction in the internal market; urges that submission documents signed by means of electronic signature from all 28 Member States should be accepted by the Committee of Petitions, as well as all the European Union institutions;

36.  Emphasises the important role of SOLVIT, a problem-solving network between the Member States which should be thoroughly developed to its full potential in collaboration with the States and their national SOLVIT centres under their national administrations, and requests that it be given more resources and that a more systematic analysis of the problems identified by SOLVIT be conducted as this network helps to give a realistic picture of the dysfunctions of the single market;

37.  Calls on the United Kingdom to take note of the recommendations made in the report of the fact-finding mission conducted in London on 5 and 6 November 2015, which were approved by the Committee on 19 April 2016;

38.  Stresses the importance of cooperation with the European Ombudsman, and the involvement of Parliament in the European Network of Ombudsmen; applauds the good relations maintained within the institutional framework between the European Ombudsman and the Committee on Petitions; commends the work of the Ombudsman to improve good administration in the EU, and has appreciated in particular her regular contributions to the work of the Committee on Petitions throughout the year;

39.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report of the Committee on Petitions to the Council, the Commission, the European Ombudsman and the governments and parliaments of the Member States, their committees on petitions and their national ombudsmen or similar competent bodies.

(1)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0204.

(2)

Adopted by the UN Committee at its 14nth session (17 August to 4 September 2015); see: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRPD%2fC%2fEU%2fCO%2f1&Lang=en

(3)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0382.

(4)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0347.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The 2015 Annual Report is intended to give an overview of the work of the Committee on Petitions. The Committee’s work programme is not tied in to the Commission’s legislative programme, being established by citizens as they exercise their right to petition Parliament and share their concerns over various EU policies and legislation.

The Annual Report aims to give a precise and full view of the work done by the Committee on Petitions. It provides statistics on the number of petitions received, dealt with and closed by the Committee, the countries concerned and the matters raised. These statistics are an important quantitative tool in assessing the Committee’s work. This report also covers other aspects such as relations with other EU institutions and with national and regional authorities.

The right to petition the European Parliament: a cornerstone of European citizenship

The 2015 annual statistics show that most citizens turn to Parliament for assistance with matters relating to the environment, justice, the internal market and fundamental rights.

Some petitioners seek a hearing for their proposals and suggestions on how EU policies should be developed while others appeal to Parliament in order to object to decisions made by national authorities or to complain about decisions by national legal bodies. Some complain about shortcomings in the application of EU legislation, owing to either incorrect transposition of that legislation or failure to apply Community rules.

According to the statistics, in 2015 the European Parliament received 1 431 petitions, which represents a drop of 47% compared to the 2 714 petitions submitted in 2014. It may be that the number of petitions peaked in previous years (2013 and 2014) but the major decline in 2015 (by nearly 50%) reflects a new trend after the steady rise in the number of petitions received during the last legislative term.

Statistical analysis of petitions received in 2015 compared to 2014

Outcome of petitions

Outcome of petitions

Number of petitions

%

Number of petitions

%

 

2014

2015

Admissible and open

790

29.1

519

36.3

Admissible and closed

817

30.1

424

29.6

Inadmissible

1070

39.4

483

33.8

Not yet decided

37

1.4

5

0.3

Total number of petitions registered

2714

100

1431

100.0

Outcome of petitions

Number of petitions

%

Number of petitions

%

 

2014

 

2015

 

Admissible and open

790

100

519

100

Admissible and referred to other bodies for opinion

77

9.7

42

8

Admissible and referred to other bodies for information

380

48.1

359

69.2

Admissible and referred to the Commission for opinion

688

87.0

464

89.4

2015

 

2014

Procedure

Number of petitions

Percentage

 

Procedure

Number of petitions

Percentage

Admissible

943

65.9

 

Admissible

1630

60.0

Inadmissible

483

33.8

 

Inadmissible

1083

39.9

Not yet decided

5

0.3

 

Not yet decided

2

0.1

Total number

1431

100

 

Total number

2715

100

In 2015, 943 petitions were admitted (65.9% of a total of 1 431) and 483 were declared inadmissible (33.8%).

In 2015, 63.4% of the petitions received, i.e. 907, were processed swiftly, either because they were deemed inadmissible (33.8%) or because, once considered admissible, they were closed immediately after the petitioner had been sent information on the matters raised or after being referred for information to another EP committee within whose remit they fell (29.6%). In 2015 the Committee on Petitions managed to completely eliminate the petition backlog that it had accumulated, which considerably boosted the quality of relations with petitioners, who saw that their petitions were now being processed more swiftly.

It should be noted that the percentage of petitions declared inadmissible has decreased compared to 2014 (6.1% in 2015) and the percentage of admissible petitions has increased (5.9%). The number of petitions declared admissible and closed in the early stages of the procedure continues to be stable, approximately 30%.

Regarding action taken on petitions and decisions adopted by the members of the Committee on Petitions, clear handling differences can be observed between 2014 and 2015: the decision to refer petitions to other agencies for information has increased by 21% and the decision to refer petitions to bodies other than the Commission for opinion remains constant at around 8%. The Commission clearly remains the principal partner of the Committee on Petitions when it comes to handling petitions that are not closed in the early stages of the procedure, as nearly 90% of them are referred to the Commission for it to process and provide an opinion (464 of 519).

Number of petitions by country

There were some changes, compared to 2014, in the list of countries from which petitions originated. Spain still headed the list in 2015, followed by Italy, Germany, Romania and Poland (in 2014 the United Kingdom was in 5th place). However there was a significant increase in the proportion of petitions from Italy, from 7.9% to 12.3%.

The Baltic countries, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, were again at the bottom of list.

2015

 

2014

Country

Number of petitions

%

 

Country

Number of petitions

%

European Union

491

29.7

 

European Union

908

28.9

Spain

213

12.9

 

Spain

449

14.3

Italy

203

12.3

 

Germany

271

8.6

Germany

153

9.3

 

Italy

248

7.9

Romania

104

6.3

 

Romania

199

6.3

Poland

57

3.5

 

United Kingdom

109

3.5

Other

431

26.0

 

Other

1071

34.0

Number of petitions in 2015 by country

 

Main subjects of petitions

As mentioned already, the environment was the chief area of petitioners’ concern in 2015, followed by justice, the working of the internal market, fundamental rights and transport.

2015

 

2014

Issues

Number of petitions

Percentage

 

Issues

Number of petitions

Percentage

Environment;

174

9.2

 

Justice

300

8.3

Justice

142

7.5

 

Environment;

284

7.8

Internal market

139

7.3

 

Internal market

266

7.3

Fundamental Rights

84

4.4

 

Fundamental Rights

208

5.7

Transport

84

4.4

 

Health

173

4.8

Health

78

4.1

 

Social affairs

158

4.4

Employment

74

3.9

 

Transport

117

3.2

Social affairs

60

3.2

 

Education and culture

113

3.1

Education and culture

57

3.0

 

Employment

108

3.0

Property and restitution

32

1.7

 

Property and restitution

55

1.5

Other

974

51.3

 

Other

1.844

50.9

Language of petitioners

Slight changes can also be seen in the breakdown of petitions by language: in 2015, as in 2014, English and German remained the languages most frequently used by petitioners; their percentages stayed stable. Italian and Spanish followed them in third and fourth place respectively (Italian moved upwards in 2015, from 16.8 to 18.2). These four languages (DE, EN, IT and ES) accounted for three quarters of the petitions received (74.5 %)

Estonian and Latvian were the two least used languages (one petition was received in each).

2015

 

2014

Language

Number of petitions

Percentage

 

Language

Number of petitions

Percentage

German

306

21.4

 

German

607

22.4

English

269

18.8

 

English

496

18.3

Italian

260

18.2

 

Spanish

456

16.8

Spanish

230

16.1

 

Italian

400

14.7

French

71

5.0

 

French

151

5.6

Romanian

71

5.0

 

Romanian

135

5.0

Polish

66

4.6

 

Polish

105

3.9

Other

158

11.0

 

Greek

92

3.4

 

 

 

 

Other

273

10

Number of petitions in 2014 by language

 

Nationality of petitioners

As regards nationality, Germans remain the most active petitioners in 2015, followed by Italians and Spaniards. Romanian, Polish and British petitioners come next in the ranking. Citizens from Malta and Luxembourg come in last, as together they submitted only five petitions in 2015.

2015

 

2014

Nationality of main petitioner

Number of petitions

Percentage

 

Nationality of main petitioner

Number of petitions

Percentage

Germany

295

20.54

 

Germany

551

20.2

Italy

275

19.15

 

Spain

468

17.1

Spain

225

15.67

 

Italy

425

15.6

Romania

103

7.17

 

Romania

196

7.2

Poland

91

6.34

 

United Kingdom

143

5.2

United Kingdom

74

5.15

 

France

129

4.7

France

63

4.39

 

Poland

123

4.5

Greece

40

2.80

 

Greece

113

4.1

Other

270

18.79

 

Other

574

21.9

Number of petitions in 2015 by nationality

 

Format of petition

As regards the format of petitions, there was a change in the trend up until 2014 of filing petitions via e-mail using the Internet form (80% in 2014 down to 69.3% in 2015) and a rise in the use of traditional post, which increased by 10% (20% in 2014 to 30.7% in 2015). It is hard to understand this shift, coinciding as it does with the enhanced web portal designed to make it easier to send documents by attaching them in digital format to the petition. Perhaps the citizens who file petitions are not so adept at using the Internet or are unaware of its possibilities, which is why it is important to continue accepting petitions by traditional post to compensate for this digital gap which may also be a generational gap. Perhaps web portal accessibility needs to be revised to make it easier and more user-friendly.

2015

 

2014

Format of petition

Number of petitions

%

 

Format of petition

Number of petitions

%

E-mail

992

69.3

 

E-mail

2174

80

Letter

439

30.7

 

Letter

540

20

Format of petitions in 2015

 

Status of petitions

As regards the status of petitions, the vast majority (80%) are closed within a year of being declared admissible and processed. Only a small number of petitions remain open for more than four years. Most open petitions have to do with infringement procedures before the Court of Justice or issues that Members want to follow more closely.

Status of petitions

Year

Open procedure

Closed procedure

2015

519

36.3%

912

63.7%

2014

385

14.2%

2330

85.8 %

2013

434

15.0%

2457

85.0%

2012

190

9.6%

1796

90.4%

2011

94

6.6%

1320

93.4%

2010

60

3.6%

1596

96.4%

2009

25

1.3%

1899

98.7 %

2008

34

1.8%

1852

98.2%

2007

32

2.1 %

1474

97.9%

2006

10

1.0%

1011

99.0%

2005

3

0.3%

1013

99.7%

2004

5

0.5 %

997

99.5%

2003

0

0%

1315

100%

2001

0

0%

1132

100%

2000

0

0 %

908

100%

Analysis of the statistics shows that the main reasons why petitions are declared inadmissible are that petitioners continue to confuse EU and national competences, and that they confuse the EU institutions and those of the Council of Europe, in particular the European Court of Human Rights. This shows that efforts must be stepped up to inform citizens more effectively of what the right of petition is all about and what can be achieved when submitting a petition to Parliament.

The new web portal which came into operation in November 2014 now allows petitioners to register, create a petition, attach relevant documents and add their support to or join existing petitions already considered admissible without having to create a new petition.

There petitioners will also find information on the work of the Committee on Petitions and the possibility of swifter redress using other EU or national networks at their disposal (SOLVIT, EU Pilot, the European Consumer Centres Network, the European Ombudsman, national ombudsmen or national parliament Petitions Committees). To a certain extent, this explains the noteworthy decline in the number of petitions in 2015, as petitioners may be approaching other bodies closer to them or in a better position to solve their problem.

The Commission agrees with Parliament that SOLVIT should be further developed, that it is important that all individuals that need it should be able to access it, and that SOLVIT must be allocated the requisite resources to that end. However, this can only be accomplished in collaboration with Member States as national SOLVIT centres are part of national administrations. The Commission is working with Member States to develop the full potential of SOLVIT and conduct a more systematic analysis of the problems identified.

The Commission believes that if petitioners give their consent, and subject to the approval of the Member States concerned (as SOLVIT is a problem-solving network between Member States), SOLVIT data could be made accessible to the Committee on Petitions for petitions subject to review by it. However, if disclosure of information could undermine the protection of the purpose of inspections, investigations and audits, it cannot be revealed until the moment that the protection is no longer needed, unless there is overriding public interest in disclosure.

The new website was launched 2014 and can be accessed at: http://www.petiport.europarl.europa.eu/petitions/es/main. Moreover, search, add support to an existing petition and petitioner confidentiality functions, some of its most important functionality shortcomings have been addressed. Petitions from 2013, 2014 and 2015 are already available on the website and those registered in 2016 are now being uploaded with a view to making the Committee’s work more transparent.

Relations with the Commission

The Commission remains the Committee on Petitions’ natural partner in dealing with petitions, as the Commission is responsible for ensuring the application of and compliance with EU law. The Commission is committed to the petitions process and responds to petitions forwarded to it by Parliament as swiftly as possible. The Commission’s responses cover requests from the Committee on Petitions that fall within their competence. Written responses are monitored and explained in detail during the oral debates at the Committee’s meetings with representatives of the European Commission.

In the 2014 report, the Commission was asked to inform the Committee on Petitions on developments in infringement procedures directly linked to petitions. However, according to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, the latter informs the Parliament of individual cases.

The Commission applies a restrictive interpretation of the exceptions under Regulation 1049/2001 in accordance with Court of Justice case law and the ‘Aarhus’ Regulation (Regulation 1367/2006). Article 6(1) of that Regulation provides that disclosure must be ensured when the information requested relates to emissions into the environment. The Court confirmed the Commission’s current policy of not disclosing documents relating to ongoing investigations, particularly those concerning possible breaches of European Union law, even when they affect environmental information or information on emissions (case C-514 LPN / 11P and C-612 13P ClientEarth).

One of the points of dispute between the Commission and the Committee on Petitions has been the Commission’s interpretation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, in particular Article 51 which provides, inter alia, that the Charter is addressed to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law.

The Commission interprets this provision in line with settled Court of Justice case law. The Commission asserts that this does not mean that citizens are left unprotected when they consider that their fundamental rights have been violated in cases where EU law does not apply. In such cases it is up to Member States to ensure that fundamental rights are effectively respected and protected in accordance with their national law and international human rights obligations. In such cases, redress must be sought at national level through the competent national authorities such as mediators or the courts and, once domestic remedies have been exhausted, cases may be brought before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Attention should be drawn to the commitment expressed by Mr Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the Commission, to study the difficulties and limitations petitions face under Article 51 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Relations with the Council

The Committee on Petitions welcomes the Council's presence at its meetings but regrets that this presence does not translate into more active collaboration that could unlock those petitions in which the cooperation of Member States would be decisive. At the same time, however, it duly notes the efforts made by some Member States that assiduously following the meetings of the committee.

Relations with the European Ombudsman – appearances of the Ombudsman

The Committee on Petitions has good inter-institutional relations with the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, who has spoken at Committee meetings on several occasions. The Ombudsman presented its annual report to the President of the European Parliament on 26 May 2015 and on 23 June 2015 at the meeting of the Committee on Petitions.

The European Ombudsman has made greater use of its prerogative to open strategic investigations on its own initiative and has adopted a new strategy for the next five years that introduces a more strategic approach to address systemic problems and promote good governance.

The Ombudsman has highlighted the main issues addressed in the framework of its activities (transparency in EU institutions, transparency of lobbyists and clinical trials, fundamental rights, ethical issues, citizen participation in the decision-making of the Union, projects and programmes financed by the Union and the Union’s competition policy).

The Committee on Petitions participated in the Tenth National Seminar of the European Network of Ombudsmen held in Warsaw, Poland, from 26-28 April 2015 which was jointly organised by the Ombudsman of Poland, Professor Irena Lipowicz, and the European Ombudsman, Ms Emily O’Reilly. The theme of the seminar was ‘Ombudsmen against discrimination’.

Cooperation with Parliament’s Legal Service

The Legal Service represents Parliament before all judicial bodies, provides legal advice to all bodies of Parliament and regularly attends the debates of the Committee on Petitions, offering its opinion when requested by the Chair. In 2015 it was asked for an opinion on access to the e-Petition database for all Members of the European Parliament.

Fact-finding missions in 2015 and visits from other institutions

Ÿ  On 5 May 2015 the Committee on Petitions hosted a visit by a delegation of the Committee on Petitions of the German Parliament (Bundestag) and discussed a number of German petitions in the presence of its chair, Mr Kersten Steinke, regarding taxation, free movement of goods and persons, agriculture and health.

Ÿ  On 5 and 6 November 2015 a fact-finding mission was carried out in London to look into matters relating to the protection of children in the UK and in particular to the issue of non-consensual adoption. Some of the petitions received claimed that the responsible authorities had taken discriminatory measures detrimental to parents who were not British nationals. Members of the delegation had the opportunity to better understand the situation by meeting with representatives of the competent institutions in the UK. Members of the delegation drafted a report and recommendations which were put to a Committee vote in 2016.

Public hearings and European Citizens’ Initiatives

Ÿ  On 26 February 2015 the Committee on Petitions and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs jointly organised a hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative and the application of Regulation 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011.

Ÿ  On 11 May 2015 the Committee on Petitions and the committees on Agriculture, Environment and Industry, jointly organised a hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Stop Vivisection’.

Ÿ  On 23 June 2015 the Committee on Petitions organised a hearing on the right to petition where the following topics were addressed: the right to petition as a fundamental right, including recent Court of Justice case-law on the right to petition and the impact that the Committee on Petitions has on European law. That hearing was attended by several members of the National Assembly for Wales: Mr William Powell, Chair of the Committee on Petitions and Mr Joyce Watson, Member of the Committee on Petitions of the National Assembly for Wales.

Ÿ  On 15 October 2015 the Committee on Petitions organised a hearing on protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, from the perspective of petitions received. At the beginning of the hearing, a study on ‘The protection role of the Committee on Petitions in the context of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ was presented by Professor Mark Priestley from the centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds.

Ÿ  On 1 December 2015 the Committee on Petitions and the Committee on Legal Affairs organised a workshop on cross-border adoptions.

Key issues in 2015

Mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments

Ÿ  In April 2015 a number of petitions revealing the tragic personal stories of thousands of citizens who had lost all or part of their life savings through preferred shares were discussed. Other petitions echoed complaints lodged by civil society organisations protesting against evictions, unfair terms in mortgage contracts and lack of consumer protection. The Committee on Petitions drew up a series of recommendations for the correct application of EU legislation on mortgage law. The Commission was specifically invited to closely monitor the application in all Member States of Directive 2014/17/EU on mortgage credit and to share best practices to improve the protection of citizens facing financial difficulties, emphasising that basic financial education could serve as an additional tool against the consequences of over-indebtedness. The Committee on Petitions decided to table an oral question on mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in Spain and to bring this debate to the European Parliament plenary with a resolution.

Environment

Ÿ  In November a series of petitions was discussed regarding night flights at European airports and their serious consequences for those living near the Cologne-Bonn, Frankfurt, Siena, Brussels, Charles de Gaulle-Roissy, Madrid Barajas, Bergamo and Ciampino (Rome) airports.

Ÿ  In November a series of petitions was discussed on the conservation of the wolf, an endangered species in Europe in: Saxony (Germany), Asturias (Spain), and Sweden.

Disability

Ÿ  Many petitions were discussed in September 2015 – such as the petition lodged on behalf of the European Disability Forum with 1 364 984 signatures on the rights of persons with disabilities (1 million 4 disability) – and bear witness to the difficulties faced by people with disabilities and the fact that they do not enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In January 2015 Ms Rosa Estarás and Ms Soledad Cabezón Ruiz were appointed as representative members of the Committee on Petitions in the structures of the UN Convention implementing the rights of people with disabilities and attended the consideration of the initial EU report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva, Switzerland on 27-28 August 2015.

Conclusions

The Committee on Petitions has the opportunity to and the major challenge, following recent events in the United Kingdom, of maintaining dialogue with citizens, as it has the potential to reconnect institutions and EU citizens;

The Committee on Petitions must listen to and help solve the problems affecting its citizens because, through petitions, it can assess the impact of Community legislation on their everyday lives while making the European Parliament more responsive, helping to solve problems mainly related to the application of EU legislation. Petitions are a valuable source of information when it comes to identifying weaknesses in how EU law is applied.

Through the Committee on Petitions we must work to regain the trust of citizens and must do so by listening to and solving the problems that concern citizens.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

29.11.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

10

0

Members present for the final vote

Marina Albiol Guzmán, Margrete Auken, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Heinz K. Becker, Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, Pál Csáky, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Eleonora Evi, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Peter Jahr, Jude Kirton-Darling, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Notis Marias, Edouard Martin, Roberta Metsola, Marlene Mizzi, Julia Pitera, Gabriele Preuß, Laurenţiu Rebega, Yana Toom, Jarosław Wałęsa, Cecilia Wikström, Tatjana Ždanoka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Kostadinka Kuneva, Ángela Vallina, Boris Zala


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

16

+

ALDE

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Yana Toom, , Cecilia Wikström

EFDD

Eleonora Evi

GUE/NGL

Marina Albiol Guzmán, Kostadinka Kuneva, Ángela Vallina,

S&D

Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Jude Kirton-Darling, Edouard Martin, , Marlene Mizzi, , Gabriele Preuß, Boris Zala

VERTS/ALE

Margrete Auken, Tatjana Ždanoka

10

-

ECR

Notis Marias

ENF

Laurenţiu Rebega

PPE

Heinz K. Becker, Pál Csáky, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut,, Peter Jahr, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Roberta Metsola, Julia Pitera, Jarosław Wałęsa

0

0

-

-

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

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