Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Monday, 19 November 2012

Petitions Committee annual report

On 20 November 2012 MEPs debated the annual report of the European Parliament's petitions committee.

The annual report - which covers the committee's work in 2011 - found that the majority of petitions focused on issues of fundamental rights, such as property and free movement issues.

Opening the debate, the report author Giles Chichester, a British Conservative MP said the committee had received over 900 admissible petitions, and that the majority came from Germany, Spain and Italy.

He also pointed out that most petitions concerned fundamental rights, the internal market and environmental issues.

Petitions can be brought forward by any EU citizen on a matter within the EU's powers.

The committee hears around 1,500 cases a year and can resort to legal proceedings if it is necessary to resolve the citizen's dispute.

The committee has also used its annual report to call on the European Parliament's Conference of President to "clarify" the role of the committee in scrutinising the new European Citizens' Initiatives.

ECIs have to be proposed by people representing at least seven EU member states. If an ECI is signed by more than a million people, the European Commission will decide whether to turn them into a full legislative proposal.

Initiatives already put forward cover subjects including animal protection and stem cell research.

The Petitions Committee's report was formally approved during the daily voting session on 20 November 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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