Petitions report: Environment is the main concern for Europeans in 2017
The main areas of concern for petitioners pertained to environment, followed by fundamental rights and justice, according to the activity report of the Petitions committee for 2017.
On Wednesday, Petition Committee MEPs adopted the report on the Committee deliberations in 2017 with 25 votes and 3 abstentions.
Key issues: Environment, fundamental rights and justice
Environmental matters, followed by fundamental rights, free movement of persons, social affairs, discrimination and immigration are the top concerns of the petitions submitted to the Parliament in 2017.
MEPs underline the importance of delivering on EU citizens’ expectations concerning proper environmental legislation and express their regrets that environmental rules are not always properly implemented in member states, as described in the petitions. Petitions MEPs urge the Commission to work together with national governments to ensure proper implementation of EU laws.
Disabilities and Brexit
In 2017, the Committee has seen a 0.5% decrease in the number of petitions submitted on disability issues. These petitions indicate that the main challenges for persons with disabilities are accessibility and discrimination, namely in employment.
Several petitions reflected citizen’s concerns ahead of the Brexit talks. In a hearing held on 11 May 2017 on citizens’ rights after Brexit, MEPs underlined that citizens’ rights will be one of the Parliament’s main priorities in the Brexit negotiations.
European Citizens’ Initiative and Petitions Web Portal
Petitions MEPs emphasized that the European Citizens’ Initiative should be both transparent and effective to serve as an important instrument of direct and participatory democracy which enables citizens to become actively involved in the framing of European policies and legislation.
While more than two thirds of petitions (878, 69,1%) were received online, the report underlined the importance to continue developing the Petitions Portal, which was established in 2014. An easily accessible, user-friendly web portal is essential for a smooth petition process and a minimum administrative burden.
Since 2017 access to documents, such as meeting agendas, minutes and Commission communications related to petitions have been automatically uploaded online, thus increasing the transparency of the committee’s work.
Rapporteur Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) said: “The annual report on the deliberations of the Committee on Petitions is an important means to understand the concerns of the citizens related to the EU law. During 2017 the main areas of concerns for petitioners were environmental issues, followed by fundamental rights and justice. To live up to the expectations of the citizens the committee therefore urges the European Commission to take its role as the guardian of the treaties seriously to ensure that the Member States implement the EU laws properly.”