THE BLOG
13/02/2015 06:27 GMT | Updated 14/04/2015 06:59 BST

Petitions: The European Parliament Gives You a Chance to Be Heard

Do you have a problem linked to the EU? The European Parliament can help. The EP's petitions committee ensures that people's complaints are heard at the highest level. And thanks to a new website launched this week, it is now easier than ever.

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Do you have a problem linked to the EU? The European Parliament can help. The EP's petitions committee ensures that people's complaints are heard at the highest level. And thanks to a new website launched this week, it is now easier than ever.

What is a petition?

It is a complaint or a request concerning the application of EU law or an appeal to the European Parliament to adopt a position on a specific matter.

In 2013 the petitions committee received 2,885 petitions, which is significantly more than the 1,986 petitions it got in 2012.

Who can submit a petition?

Anyone who lives in the EU or is a citizen of one of the member states can submit a petition. This also applies to anyone who is a member of an association, company or organisation with a headquarters in the EU.

Where do most of the petitions come from?

In 2012 the countries where the most petitions came from were: Germany 23.9%, Spain 15.7%, Italy 12.1%, Romania 7.1%, UK 5.3%

What can the petition be about?

The petition has to be about something the EU deals with, such as consumer protection, employment issues and social policy, recognition of professional qualifications and other problems related to the implementation of EU law or rights set out in the EU treaties.

In 2012 the most popular topics were: fundamental rights 25.1%, the environment 14.1%, internal market 7.2%, health 5.5%, consumers rights 5.1% and animal welfare 3%.

The geographical areas most complained about in 2012 were: the whole of the EU 27.3%, Spain 15%, Germany 12.5%, Italy 8.6% and Romania 7.4%

How do you submit a petition?

Petitions can be submitted either online or by traditional mail in one of the EU's official 24 languages. In 2012, 70% (1,387) of petitions were submitted electronically, 30% (599) on paper. The most popular languages used in 2012 were: German 25.1%, English 18.1%, Spanish 15.3%, Italian 11.2%, French 6.2%

What happens after you submit a petition?

Once a petition has been declared admissible, there is a range of possibilities open to the petitions committee. It can for example ask the European Commission to conduct a preliminary investigation and provide information regarding compliance with relevant EU legislation or contact SOLVIT, which is dedicated to helping people if they have a problem with European bureaucracy.

The petitions committee can also refer the petition to other parliamentary committees for information or further action. In some exceptional cases it can prepare and submit a full report to the Parliament to be voted upon in plenary or conduct a fact-finding visit to the country or region concerned and write a committee report containing its observations and recommendations. In general it will take any action considered appropriate to try to resolve an issue or deliver a suitable response to the people who submitted the petition.

Photo copyright European Parliament