The term “petition” is used very often but not always in its pure sense. In fact, many people think that petition at the EU level is the same as petition at national level. But, EU petitions are not a simple list of signatures: they have to be submitted to the respect of a very formal EU procedure lay down in the following document.
For a first information, we recommend to read these two links of the EP website first, explaining in a very easy way, with bullet points :
Article 24 TFEU (ex-Article 21) provides that “Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to petition the European Parliament in accordance with Article 194”.
The Procedure for submitting a petition is laid down in actual Article 227 TFEU (ex-Article 194 EC) and is specified by Title 8 “Petitions”, Rules 201 to 203 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, 7th parliamentary term - July 2009.
Persons who have right of petition:
These persons should be directly affected by the subject of the petition. It can be:
1) Any citizen of the Union residing in a Member State
2) Any natural or legal person having its registered office in a Member State
3) Association of citizen /or natural or legal person
1) Petitions to Parliament shall show the name, nationality and permanent address of each petitioner.
2) Where a petition is signed by several natural or legal persons, the signatories shall designate a representative and deputy representatives who shall be regarded as the petitioners.
Where no such designation has occurred the first signatory or another appropriate person shall be regarded as the petitioners.
EU Petition requirements
Petitions must be written in an official language of the European Union.
Registration of petitions
1) Petitions shall be entered in a register in the order in which they are received if they complied with formal requirements (if not, the petitioner shall be informed of the reasons).
2) Petitions entered in the register shall be forwarded by the President to the committee responsible, which shall first establish the admissibility of the Petition (If the committee responsible fails to reach a consensus on the admissibility of the petition, it could be declared admissible at the request of at least ¼ of the members of the committee).
3) Petitioner of Petitions declared inadmissible by the committee shall be informed of the decision and the reasons. Where possible, alternative means of redress may be recommended.
Publication of petitions
1) Once registered, Petitions become public documents, and the name of the petitioner and the contents of the petition may be published by Parliament for reasons of transparency.
BUT - The petitioner may request that his or her name be withheld in order to protect his or her privacy. In which case, Parliament must respect such a request.
- The petitioner may request that his or her petition be treated confidentially. In which case, suitable precautions will be taken by Parliament to ensure that the contents are not made public. The petitioner will be informed under which precise conditions this provision is to apply.
Examination of petitions
1) Petitions are examined by a Committee, during a regular meeting or by written procedure. Petitioners are invited to participate to meetings of the committee if their petition is to be the subject of discussion, or they may request to be present.
2) If the committee decides that the Petition is admissible, two acts can be taken:
- Firstly, the Committee can draw up an own-initiative report. If the report involves a matter managed by a specific Committee, this committee will be associated. In this case, the proposals made by the specific committee will be adopted without any vote, and if these proposals are refused, they will be submitted to a plenary session for a vote.
- Secondly, the Committee can submit to the EP a short motion for a resolution to Parliament. In this case, the Petition will be placed on the draft agenda of the part-session held no later than eight weeks after their adoption in committee. During this session, the petition will be put to a single vote without debate.
3) An electronic register is set up in which citizens may lend or withdraw their support to the petitioner, appending their own electronic signature to petitions entered in the register.
4) The committee may request assistance from the Commission, from the President, the Council or the Member State authority concerned for action or response.
1) The committee informs Parliament every six months of the outcome of its deliberations.
2) The petitioner is also informed of the decision and of the reasons justifying it.
=> When consideration of an admissible petition has been concluded, it shall be declared closed and the petitioner informed.
Notice of petitions
1) Petitions entered in the register and the main decisions on the procedure to be followed in relation to specific petitions are noticed during a plenary session and enters in the minutes of procedure.
2) The title and a summary of the texts of petitions entered in the register, together with the texts of the opinions and the most important decisions forwarded in connection with the examination of the petitions, are made available to the public in a database, provided the petitioner agrees to this.
Confidential petitions are preserved in the records of Parliament, where they shall be available for inspection by Members.