Every day, citizens from all over Europe and the rest of the world turn to the European Parliament to request information, express opinions or suggest solutions on a wide range of topics. Ask EP provides an overview of the main issues raised by the citizens who wrote to the European Parliament during the first six months of 2016.
The European Parliament’s Ask EP service is dedicated to all citizens who address the institution by letter or via the Ask EP web form. In its answers, Ask EP provides citizens with information on the activities, powers and the organisation of the European Parliament. Often this means explaining the EU decision-making process and clarifying the responsibilities of the different EU institutions; between the national and the EU level; and as informing citizens of the activities of the European Parliament on the topics of interest to them.
The European Parliament is the only directly elected EU institution, and its main aim is to focus on improving the daily lives of Europeans. The Parliament therefore receives many messages from citizens, who explain their personal situation and ask for help or guidance. Others write to get detailed information on the functioning and work of the Parliament and its directly elected Members.
From January to the end of June 2016, Ask EP treated more than 35 000 enquiries in all EU languages. Often citizen correspondence to the European Parliament reflects the political agenda at the EU level and/or media coverage of current events in the individual countries.
The most pressing issue for citizens in the first half of 2016 was migration, and how migration issues are handled at the EU level and in the Member States. In view of the EU-Turkey agreement on migration, citizens also wrote to express their opinions on the political situation in Turkey, and on EU-Turkey relations. Another top issue was the referendum in the UK: which generated a high number of messages, both before and after the vote of the British people, and was often linked to questions about the state and future of the European Union.
Citizens also reacted intensively to the terrorist attacks in Europe and abroad, often asking the EU institutions to adopt new measures to combat and prevent these crimes. Also amongst the topics trending during the first six months of 2016 were: the political situation in Poland; the EU-USA (TTIP) and EU-Canada (CETA) trade agreement negotiations; and the renewal of the EU market approval for the glyphosate herbicide.
As the European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level, Parliament regularly receives enquiries from organised civil society actors. Some of the main topics of these organised enquiries include: the market approval for the glyphosate herbicide already mentioned; new EU rules on trade secrets and the implications for the protection of whistle-blowers; and citizens’ concerns about animal welfare.
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