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How it works: Petitions to the European Parliament

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Published on Oct 23, 2012

Hello, my name is Linnea and I heard that you have received many petitions with many signatures at the Parliament and I wonder what you do with them now. These boxes contain 2.5 million signatures. It's one of the best-supported petitions the EP has received. It concerns ACTA, the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which, the petitioners believe, will compromise a free and open internet. All EU citizens and residents can take MEPs to task by submitting a petition either individually or jointly with others. Petitions can take the form of a complaint or a request and relate to private or public issues as long as the petitioners are directly affected. The petition is then sent by post or electronically. Its first stop is the Secretariat of the EP's Petitions Committee. In 2011 we received around 1,500 petitions from all the EU countries. Of those 1,500 petitions, I think about 800 or 900, maybe more, were admissible. A petition is admissible if it comes within the EU's areas of activity. Some of this petitions go nowhere, because their subject must come within the EU's areas of activity. These areas of activity are the environment, fundamental rights, the internal market, justice, transport and issues concerning freedom of the press, freedom of expression etcetera. The question of admissibility is considered in writing, but in certain urgent cases like ACTA the procedure can be accelerated, with the coordinators of the Petitions Committee meeting behind closed doors. The coordinators' office has deemed the anti-ACTA petition admissible. Once a petition is declared admissible by the Petitions Committee, its future has three possible outcomes. It is most frequently sent to the Commission which conducts a preliminary investigation. Sometimes the Petitions Committee refers it to another committee specialising in that particular field, such as the environment, industry or the economy. In exceptional cases the Petitions Committee conducts its own investigation and submits a full report to be voted upon in plenary. We can go beyond what the European Commission decides. We can approach local authorities, we can conduct fact-finding missions if necessary, we can even request a resolution in Parliament so that all MEPs can have a say. The Petitions Committee's goal is simple, to draw attention to a particular problem and open a debate. The impact is not always easy to measure. The many successes on environmental issues haven't been the only ones. For example in 2011 an Italian lorry driver won his case after being taxed twice by Italian and German authorities. He was reimbursed for the sum that had been wrongfully demanded.

EuroparlTV video ID: a954f7a6-a73e-4020-93a4-a02201083968

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