last updated July 29, 2013



Type of Mechanism
Scope of the Procedure
The subject of the petition must fall within the scope of activities of the European Union and may relate to: a matter of general concern, an individual complaint, a request for Parliament to take a stance on a matter of public interest.  For women's rights advocates, the subject of a petition would most likely be the EU's principles on equal treatment for men and women.[1]
Who can Submit a Complaint?
The following persons may submit a petition to the European Parliament: a European Union citizen, a resident in a European Union Member State, or a member of a company, organization or association (natural or legal person) with its headquarters in a European Union Member State.
Role of Advocates
NGOs, with headquarters in a European Union country may submit petitions.
Available Remedies
The available remedies all deal with publicizing the matter addressed in the petition.  The European Parliament can request information from the European Commission on compliance with European Union Law, and can submit reports or draw up an opinion. 
How to Submit a Complaint
Petitions must be in one of the official EU languages and applicants should state: their name, occupation, nationality, place of residence of each petitioner.
Petitions may be either written or electronic.  A written petition does not require a specific format, but must meet the following requirements:
1)     Include the name, nationality, andpermanent address of of petitioner.  In the case of a group petition, it must include the name, nationality, and permanent residence of the presenter or, at least, the first signatory;
2)     Be written clearly and legibly; and
3)     Be signed.
The written petition may include annexes of supporting documentation.
An electronic petition may be submitted via the internet by email.  An electronic petition form, as well as guidelines, are available at the European Parliament website.
Annexes to an electronic petition may be sent to the following address: European Parliament
Committee on Petitions
The Secretariat
Rue Wiertz
Where to Send Communications
European Parliament
The President of the European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
How the Complaint Procedure Works
Once a petition has been registered, the Committee on Petitions determines whether it addresses the principles and objectives of the European Union. 
If a petition is deemed inadmissible, the Committee notifies the petitioner and may recommend an application to a non-Community European body (i.e. in the Council of Europe) or a national authority (i.e. a national ombudsman).  
If a petition is deemed admissible, the Committee on Petitions will consider the contents of the petition and can do one of the following:
1)     ask the European Commission to provide information regarding compliance with the relevant Community legislation;
2)     refer the petition to other European Parliament committees for further action; or
3)     submit a report to Parliament to be voted on in plenary;
4)     draw up an opinion and ask the President of the European Parliament to forward it to the Council and/or European Commission for action.
More detail about the procedure for submitting a petition is available on the European Parliament website.
The procedure for submitting a petition is straightforward and the scope of what a petition can address is broad.  The petition can bring public attention to an issue that has not been adequately addressed by the EU or national governments.
The European Parliament is not a judicial body and, therefore, cannot issue binding judgments in individual cases.


Additional Resources
The European Union website provides an overview of the European Parliament, with links to a page on the procedure for submitting a petition.
[1] “Petitions,” European Parliament, accessed June 17, 2013,