GUIDELINES FOR THE PETITIONS COMMITTEE
INTERNAL PROCEDURES & RECOMMENDATIONS.1
Registration of petitions:
When petitions are addressed to the Parliament they are recorded in GEDA by the
official mail service and then forwarded to DG Presidency - Members' Activities
Division. The M.A.D. acknowledges receipt, provides a petition number, and records
the name of the petitioner and the number of the petition for publication in the
minutes of the first plenary session after registration. The petition, in its original
version, is simultaneously introduced into ePetition.
Processing of petitions:
Petitions are sent in groups of 20 - 25 at a time from M.A.D. (Luxembourg) to the
Committee secretariat. When the petition and any accompanying documentation
reaches the secretariat of the Committee it is distributed to the administrators within
the secretariat to be summarised and recommendations are formulated. A deadline is
given and the summaries are again grouped together, by this date, and sent for
translation. On receipt of the translated version the summaries and recommendations
are checked for their coherence, eventually corrected, returned for translation if
necessary, before being sent to the Distribution Service for communication to all
members of the Committee. (Note; the procedure is the same for all petitions, whether
submitted electronically or by post.)
Members of the Committee receive a document containing summaries and
recommendations in their own language every few weeks. (This may of course be
checked against the original in ePetition) There is a deadline established by which
time comments are to be sent to the Chairman of the Committee. Where no comments
are registered the recommendations are considered to be approved and at this point
letters are signed by the Chairman which inform petitioners of the Committee's
intentions regarding the form of follow-up action to be given to the petition. The
summaries and recommendations are introduced into ePetition, and any additional
data added where necessary by the administrator.
1 Concerning the petitions process itself and not the handling of reports and parliamentary opinions.
To be considered admissible a petition must conform with the provisions of the Treaty
(Articles 21 & 194) and with the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament,
notably Rule 191§1. Petitions which do not correspond to these criteria are declared
inadmissible. An alternative means of redress or appeal may be suggested in such
Investigation and follow-up:
If and when admissibility is established the substance of the petition may be further
investigated. This is done in many cases by forwarding it to the European
Commission for preliminary research, particularly to establish the legal status of the
petition in relation to relevant EU Directives or Regulations. (Petitions received in
languages other than EN, FR or DE must first be translated under the terms of an
Interinstitutional Agreement.) The Secretariat General of the Commission forwards
the request and the petition to the responsible service which provides a reply. It then
coordinates the transmission of replies to the secretariat of the Committee.
The Committee secretariat may, in certain cases, conduct its own investigation where
it has the knowledge and expertise to do so.
Petitions may be forwarded by the Chairman to other Committees of the European
Parliament for an opinion or for information. Where an opinion is sought this may be
provided in the form of a letter to the Petitions Committee, or in the form of a written
document, depending on the substance of the response which is left to the discretion
of the Committee concerned. Petitions forwarded for information do not as a general
rule require a reply as they are intended merely to alert a Committee to a particular
situation or event considered by the petitioner and the Petitions Committee to be
worthy of note and to help, for example, with preparation of new legislation.
Petitions which concern issues on which the European Parliament has recently
debated or voted upon are replied to by sending the corresponding resolution or
legislative text to the petitioner.
Preparation of the meeting agenda:
Following the receipt of Commission replies a CM is prepared and translated for each
one and the secretariat formulates a judgement as to whether the issue is to be
itemised on the Committee agenda as an "A" point or a "B" point. It may conclude
that the response is inconclusive or that the reply is only provisional in which case the
issue will not be placed on the agenda. If another substantive reason is apparent, the
topicality or inherent importance of the subject may require that the members be made
aware of the issue even though no clear options are available.
The draft agenda is then prepared by the secretariat which takes into account the
importance of the various topics leading to prioritisation, the availability of members
and Commission officials, and the eventual presence of petitioners or other interested
parties. Petitions covering similar areas of activity or themes may be grouped together
to allow members to usefully compare similar situations which may pertain in
different member states, or within a given state or region.
The draft agenda is submitted to the Chairman for his consideration and approval
before being translated and made available to members. It is discussed during a
preparatory meeting of the secretariat with responsible officials from the political
groups in the Strasbourg session prior to each Committee meeting. Dossiers for all
items are inserted in ePetition.
At this time the agenda for the Coordinators' meeting is also discussed. An annotated
Coordinators' agenda is then prepared by the secretariat and distributed directly to the
Bureau and Coordinators.
Meetings of the Committee:
The Committee finally approves the draft agenda, submitted by the Chairman, and
debates or discusses all the "A" items, based upon the Communications to Members
and other documents made available at the meeting. The European Commission
official responsible makes an oral statement on behalf of the Commission. In
exceptional circumstances the Commissioner responsible may be invited to make a
statement. If a petitioner has requested to be present, or has been invited by the
Chairman, he or she is given the opportunity to speak, provide additional information
and respond to questions. Other interested parties, for example the representatives of
Member States, may also be invited to attend the Committee and make a statement.
Having considered each petition, the Committee may formulate a recommendation for
further action by keeping the petition open. Petitions which remain open may be
further investigated by the Committee by means of a fact-finding visit in exceptional
and duly justified cases (with the approval of Parliament's authorities and according to
its rules), or they may be investigated further by the European Commission and/or the
secretariat. Information may be requested from national or local authorities' concerned
or other interested bodies, such as Ombudsmen where appropriate. The Committee
might wish to prepare a report for plenary on admissible petitions which it considers
to be of particular significance, or table an Oral Question to Council or the
Commission, possibly with a draft resolution to wind up the debate
Or, the Committee may consider that a case has been sufficiently discussed, in which
case it is closed. "B" items are closed under the written procedure, unless a member
raises an objection in which case they are placed on the "A" agenda at the next
meeting. Petitions which are closed are concluded on the basis of the reasons given in
In either case the petitioner is informed by letter from the Chairman of the Committee
of the decision taken.
Outcome of meetings:
Following each meeting the secretariat meets to coordinate the administrative
outcome for each item and responsibilities are attributed to each member of staff.
A note is sent to the European Commission which confirms the decisions of the
Committee in relation to each petition. Decisions of the Committee are entered into
ePetition by the secretariat following this meeting. Letters are then prepared for the
If, following a decision to close a petition, other pertinent facts are brought to light by
the petitioner which have, in the opinion of the secretariat, not been fully taken into
account, then a request may be introduced to re-open a petition. These issues are
addressed at the beginning of a Committee meeting by the Chairman.
Closing dormant petitions:
Petitions which have remained open, pending the provision of additional information
for more than one year, and for which no further response has been obtained from the
petitioner, may be closed by the Committee, on the advice of the secretariat, without
further debate. They are also raised by the Chairman at the beginning of a Committee
At the end of each legislature, the secretariat of the Committee reviews the situation
of all open petitions which remain on file. It identifies petitions which may no longer
be actively under consideration in Committee with a view to closing them. Under the
new legislature, the Committee once formed considers the recommendations of the
secretariat and takes a decision. Otherwise, all petitions remain open and their
assessment will continue without interruption.