The role of ombudsmen and petitions committees in detecting breaches of EU law

26-11-2018

Over the last decades, national and EU political institutions have sought ways to get closer to citizens, who are showing an increasing dissatisfaction with the performance of democratic institutions. The right to petition and the right to submit complaints to ombudsmen (the twin rights) can be considered two privileged instruments for strengthening this relationship, since they are two of the most accessible ways for citizens to address political institutions, notably to react to the application of EU law and policy. Pioneering efforts have been made to enhance the relationship with the citizens, notably through the use of new technologies. These technologies facilitate the exercise of the twin rights, they democratise access to information or facilitate communication between institutions and citizens. One of the major shortcomings in the petitions/complaints process is the lack of knowledge of the profile of those who make use of their right to petition or to complain. This briefing provides some recommendations on how to empower parliaments and enforce citizens’ rights through the petitions and complaints process.

Over the last decades, national and EU political institutions have sought ways to get closer to citizens, who are showing an increasing dissatisfaction with the performance of democratic institutions. The right to petition and the right to submit complaints to ombudsmen (the twin rights) can be considered two privileged instruments for strengthening this relationship, since they are two of the most accessible ways for citizens to address political institutions, notably to react to the application of EU law and policy. Pioneering efforts have been made to enhance the relationship with the citizens, notably through the use of new technologies. These technologies facilitate the exercise of the twin rights, they democratise access to information or facilitate communication between institutions and citizens. One of the major shortcomings in the petitions/complaints process is the lack of knowledge of the profile of those who make use of their right to petition or to complain. This briefing provides some recommendations on how to empower parliaments and enforce citizens’ rights through the petitions and complaints process.