RIGHT TO PETITION:
In some cases a petition can draw attention to areas in which EU legislation may need to be reviewed.
In order for a petition to be considered it has to directly relate to an area covered under EU law. That includes free movement, discrimination, equality or any incident where Irish authorities have failed to implement EU laws, directives or decisions. The matter must affect the petitioner(s) directly (OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/133).
A petition can also be made on the grounds of general concern like heritage protection, environmental concern or consumer protection.
Requests for Parliament to take a stance on areas of public interest like upholding human rights or environmental protection can also be made through petitions.
In tangible terms a panel of MEPs will allow you to present your case to the committee, investigate the circumstances and make a decision on the case.
This video can help you find out more about how the Committee works.
Where to start
Any EU citizen or resident can submit a petition to the European Parliament either as an individual or with others as part of a campaign. Businesses, voluntary organisations and any other groups can also exercise their right to petition the Parliament.
The only criteria is that the subject of the petition has to be within the scope of European legislation or policy and it has to directly affect the petitioners.
It's worth looking at how previous petitions have been structured. The list of petitions for the current Parliamentary session is available here
Submitted petitions are examined by the Committee on Petitions which will decide if the issue is something that the Parliament can deal with. If the petition is admissible, the Committee will then decide what action needs to be taken.
The petition may then be subject of an investigation or it could be referred to another Parliament committee who can deal with the issue. MEPs could decide to go on a fact finding mission to the region concerned and issue a report on the matter.
The Parliament can also request the European Commission to provide information or an opinion on the points raised by the petition or refer it to the European Ombudsman.
If a petition leads to the discovery of a violation of European law, the Commission will initiate proceedings in the Court of Justice.
Use of the Petitions Committee in Ireland
- Contact your local member of the European Parliament (MEP)
- Contact the Irish European Parliament office in Dublin for more information
Irish groups are amongst the best in Europe at using their right to petition. A report found that in 2008 Irish citizens submitted the largest number of petitions per capita to the Parliament.
In fact a third of all environmental cases dealt with by the EU are Irish.
Several groups from Ireland have submitted petitions concerning the environment, including the Nevitt Lusk Action Group which is opposed to a landfill site due to the potentially harmful impact on the region's horticulture.
The Petitions Committee also contacted the Irish Government over work carried out by National Roads Agency which had ignored EU Directives when planning the route of the M3 motorway.
The Department of Environment acknowledged and acted on many of points raised by petitions brought by Irish groups including some relating to the quality of drinking water in Galway.