Every day, citizens from all across the EU and the wider world address the European Parliament to request information, express opinions or suggest ideas on an extensive range of topics. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP) provides answers to citizens on the issues they raise. In 2018, citizens put more than 30 000 questions, suggestions and comments to the European Parliament or its President.
Topics of the year
The European Commission’s plans to end seasonal clock changes in the European Union (EU) generated a significant share of mail from citizens in 2018. The European Parliament and Council considered the legislative proposal, which would allow EU countries to decide whether their citizens would live in winter or summer time.
We also received a large number of messages ahead of the European Parliament vote on its position on a legislative proposal updating the copyright directive in September 2018. The proposal was hotly debated, with some arguing that the measures would ensure fair remuneration for journalists and publishers, and others highlighting the risks of filtering and control of the internet.
The environment was also a topic of great interest for citizens, particularly single-use plastics, which are a source of marine litter. To tackle the issue, the European Commission has proposed to ban or restrict certain plastic items commonly found on European beaches. The European Parliament has ensured that the legislation adopted is more ambitious than the initial proposal.
Two individual cases have also generated reactions from citizens: the early termination of the office of Richard Czarnecki, a Vice-President of the European Parliament, and the legal battle regarding Alfie Evans, a toddler who suffered from a neurological degenerative condition.
The functioning and activities of the European Parliament continued to be, as in previous years, a topic of interest. Many citizens wanted to know about the activities of Members of the European Parliament and how to contact them, as well as how to exercise their right of petition, how to visit the institution, and how to apply for a job or a traineeship in the EU institutions. Citizens also wrote to the European Parliament to comment on and ask questions about the Brexit process.
Civil liberties, justice and home affairs was an important area of interest for citizens addressing the Ask EP unit. Reactions related mainly to the political situation in Catalonia and the visit of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to the European Parliament in May 2018. Citizens also wrote to the European Parliament to comment and ask questions on migration and refugee policies, and to comment and request action on the political situation in some EU countries.
Citizens also turned to the European Parliament for answers on the political situation outside the EU, for instance in Kosovo, Palestine, Russia, Syria, Turkey and Ukraine.
Another fundamental area of direct concern frequently shared by citizens writing to our service relates to employment and social affairs, in particular pension schemes, employment policy and working conditions. Citizens also contacted the European Parliament for comments and queries on culture and education, in particular free Interrail passes and Erasmus+.
In 2019, continue to put your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us.