Vallina report calls for greater transparency and more participatory democracy
This morning in Strasbourg, Rapporteur Ángela Vallina, presented the Activities of the Committee on Petitions 2015 report to the European Parliament.
Vallina affirmed: “This parliamentary committee is the best thermometer the European Parliament has to measure what the real concerns of the population are.”
“Even though the number of petitions has been considerably reduced in 2015, environmental complaints about breaches of the precautionary principle are continuously received.
“There are also petitions on violations of consumer rights, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and issues regarding the free movement of people, collective lay-offs, animal abuse and the right to vote.
“We call on the member states to implement EU law correctly. However, without a doubt, it is the European Commission that is most criticised in this report. The European Commission must ensure respect of the Treaties and EU law regarding the right to petition.
Vallina called for a review of the directive governing European Citizens' Initiatives, which are another fundamental tool for participatory democracy.
She stressed: “Procedures should be facilitated and normative changes proposed. This is in contrast to the way the Commission handled the Right to Water initiative with no commitment to action being made, and the STOP TTIP initiative, which the Commission refused to classify as a Citizen's Initiative despite the petition having more than 3 million signatures.”
Vallina addressed the Commission: “Another issue that concerns us is that there is a lack of transparency in the investigation and infringement procedures. In this report, I ask you to declassify information related to open requests.”
“I call for greater transparency and more participatory democracy mechanisms in the European Union, and I also hope that next year we will not repeat the same issues,” the Spanish MEP concluded.
Dutch MEP, Anja Hazekamp, raised the issue of the large number of petitions about animal welfare that the parliament receives: “It means that citizens are very concerned about the way we treat animals in Europe.”
Hazekamp stressed that animal welfare requirements must be fully addressed by the European Union and the member states, as is clearly stated in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
“Yet, most of the petitions received are dismissed by the Commission with the message ‘this is not our competence’,” she reported.
Hazekamp urged the Commission to improve the legislation on animal welfare.
Greek MEP, Kostadinka Kuneva highlighted that the PETI Committee exists to bring citizens closer to the European Union and listen to their needs.
“This report shows how effective the committee can be, thanks especially to the hard work of the secretariat. Given the important role of this committee, it requires a larger budget and more staff to do such useful job,” Kuneva concluded.
Spanish MEP, Xavier Benito, affirmed: “Not surprisingly, petitions concerning environmental matters are the most numerous. This shows that European society is more advanced than the European institutions in considering the environment as an ally of society and not as a barrier to progress. It also shows that the European institutions are getting further out of touch with the people of Europe.”
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