What do people write about when contacting the European Parliament and its President?
People from across the EU and elsewhere in the world turn to the European Parliament and its President, David Maria Sassoli, to request information, call for action to be taken, express their opinions or suggest ideas on a wide range of topics. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP) at the European Parliament answers in any of the official EU languages – from Swedish to Slovak and Polish to Portuguese!
In 2020, Ask EP received no less than 9 373 individual messages and 82 680 campaign enquiries. Citizens wrote to us on the topics that defined 2020, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of the rule of law mechanism, as well as on a wide range of other topics.
Which topics were most addressed in individual enquiries in 2020?
The most frequently addressed topic in 2020 was matters concerning the European Parliament itself. We received over 2 100 enquiries, in which citizens expressed interest in Members of European Parliament and their activities, enquired about visits to the European Parliament, and requested information on topics such as committee meetings and the right to petition. Any EU citizen or resident has the right to address a petition to the European Parliament on a matter related to EU powers and which affects the citizen directly. People turn to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit asking questions about submitting petitions or requesting an update on their ongoing petition, information, which is also available on the Petitions Portal webpage.
The second most frequent topic on which citizens contacted Ask EP last year related to civil liberties, justice and home affairs, with came close to 1 600 enquiries. People voiced their concerns about, for instance, fundamental rights matters or respect for the rule of law in EU countries – and requested action from the Parliament on these topics. The judicial system in Bulgaria, the rule of law in Poland and Hungary as well as women’s right to abortion in Poland were some of the focal points of these controversial topics. The European Parliament adopted a new resolution on 7 October 2020, emphasising once more the urgent need for creation of an EU mechanism to protect and strengthen democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.
Issues concerning foreign affairs were another key focus for citizens in the past year, counting over 800 enquiries. People expressed their opinion on the situation in third countries, for example on the death of George Floyd in the USA, the political situation in Russia or EU‑Turkey relations. One prominent topic was the presidential elections in Belarus, for which EU and Belarussian citizens reached out to the Parliament, requesting support for Belarussian democracy. In a resolution adopted in September 2020, the European Parliament expressed its unequivocal support for the people of Belarus in their legitimate demands and aspirations for free and fair elections, fundamental freedoms and human rights.
Finally, the European Parliament received over 800 different suggestions, questions and requests from citizens in 2020 regarding the coronavirus pandemic, including about the EU’s approach to tackling the coronavirus, travel restrictions, the closing of borders, confinement measures, or management of the crisis by individual EU countries. Many citizens requested coordinated EU action with respect to the coronavirus and commented on how the EU was handling the situation. In a resolution adopted in April 2020, the European Parliament called for a united response, solidarity in the health sector and European solutions to overcoming the pandemic’s economic and social consequences.
Campaign messages sent to the European Parliament in 2020
As a response to political, humanitarian and economic events, citizens often send messages to the President of the European Parliament, expressing their views on current issues and/or requesting action from the Parliament. These messages may sometimes be identical as part of wider public campaigns.
In October 2020, for instance, the European Parliament received over 15 500 messages calling on the President of the European Parliament to intervene against the possible introduction of a digital euro by the European Central Bank. After the European Central Bank announced in a 2 October 2020 press release that it would launch a public consultation on the potential implementation of a digital euro, citizens voiced concerns that a purely digital euro could increase the ability of authorities to control and monitor them, thereby potentially restricting their civil liberties and financial independence. However, as the European Central Bank indicated, a digital euro would be intended to complement, but not replace, cash. The full answer given by the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit is available on this EPRS blog.
Due to the situation at the EU’s external borders with Turkey in March 2020, over 17 000 citizens wrote to Parliament’s President to press the EU to urgently adopt a clear and humane migration and external borders policy. They also called on the EU to assist Greece and Bulgaria in managing the situation on their borders with Turkey, after the Turkish government had stated that it would allow thousands of migrants to cross into the EU. Ask EP’s answer to this campaign can be found here.
Finally, the biggest campaign in 2020, with over 36 000 enquiries, addressed the termination of the mandate of Oriol Junqueras i Vies. The President of the European Parliament received a large number of messages in January 2020 following the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union in case C-502/19, Junqueras Vies, of 19 December 2019. The President of the European Parliament, announced in plenary on 13 January 2020 that, following the judgement of the EU Court, Oriol Junqueras i Vies’ mandate began on 2 July 2019, on the basis of the official declaration of the results of the European elections by the competent Spanish authorities. However, taking into account the decision of the Junta Electoral Central of 3 January 2020, and pursuant to the decision of the Tribunal Supremo of 9 January 2020, his mandate was terminated, with effect from 3 January 2020. More information on this campaign is available on this website.
All replies to campaigns totalling over 50 enquiries are published on the EPRS blog. Are you curious about our answers to other campaign messages in 2020? Find out more here.
Continue to put your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP), using our contact form, the Citizens’ app, or post! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us and are looking forward to your enquiries in 2021!
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