Online petitions in the European context

I’ve been putting together some information for a new project that I will be involved with for the next couple of years: EuroPetition. It’s still early days, but there seem to be a few opportunities for synergies with other projects I’m involved with.

Citizens can already petition the European Parliament through its PETI committee, albeit over a restricted range of subjects:

  • Overview of citizens’ right to petition parliament etc. Topics are kept safely controlled and limited to:
    – your rights as a European citizen as set out in the Treaties,
    – environmental matters,
    – consumer protection,
    – free movement of persons, goods and services, internal market,
    – employment issues and social policy,
    – recognition of professional qualifications,
    – other problems related to the implementation of EU law.  

    The system is not aimed at supporting a mass expression of opinion on the current fun and games in Gaza (and the EU’s non-response) for instance… in practical terms, it will be a challenge to find topics that could raise passions across borders (Polish plumbers?)     

    There is even an online form for submitting petition requests (it’s necessary to ask to be able to submit a petition early on in the process to avoid the disappointment of being told that they won’t accept it):

As I noted earlier in the item on Constitutional Patriotism, the situation will superficially change once the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty are put in place (curse those pesky Irish and Czechs):

  • This links to a blog run by a lecturer in European law. It gives an overview and background to the situation on petitions etc in the Lisbon Treaty. All that is best about the EU in one clear paragraph. (In fact, not: there are a whole series of interleaving paragraphs and clauses to consider).
    The blogger concludes: “Treaty reform or dissolution of the EU, as well as foreign, security and defence policy are outside the scope of admissible citizens’ initiatives. It is therefore possible that this participatory innovation will lead to frustration, when potential campaigners, including the campaigners for the citizens’ initiative itself, are confronted with the restrictions.”

Or, to repeat myself:

“creating expectations that they [are] neither able nor willing to fulfil”, leading to conflicts between falsely raised expectations of the demos and the actual power that the elite is willing to concede.

To finish on a more positive note, a bit more on the EuroPetition project:

I’m looking forward to it – the partners seem dynamic and focussed on creating a genuinely working system.


About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
This entry was posted in Daily Links, e-government, e-participation, Europe, opensource, politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Online petitions in the European context

  1. jameshigham says:

    How seriously would the EU take any petition?

  2. Peter says:

    Well, the parliamentary committee takes them seriously (see today’s post)… the issue is getting any action out of the Commission or the member states. So, there might be no answer for the ‘EU’, just a series of responses by its constituent institutions and states.

  3. Pingback: Petitions to the European Parliament in 2007/08 « Spartakan

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