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Throughout 2019, people from across the EU and the world addressed the European Parliament to request information, express opinions or suggest ideas on a wide range of topics. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP) provides them with clear answers on the issues they raise.

People posed more than 68 000 questions, comments and suggestions to the European Parliament or its President in 2019.

It was a special year for the European Parliament, as the European elections took place in May 2019, and the new European Parliament elected the President of the European Commission in July 2019. Following hearings and a vote in Parliament, the new European Commission took office in December 2019. People showed an interest in these events and a wide range of topics.

Main topics of the year

The European Parliament received many comments on a resolution it adopted in March 2019 on the fundamental rights of people of African descent in Europe. Citizens criticised the European Parliament, considering the resolution as containing discriminatory elements. The video of the debate in plenary that led to the resolution, of 26 March 2019 is available online.

Following the European elections of May 2019, the question of status of Members of the European Parliament elected in Catalonia, Spain and the subsequent court cases, elicited a number of reactions from citizens.

A third important topic raised was the issue of a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) proposing an ‘anti-extremism Directive’. In response to those correspondents who believed that this initiative was actually a European Commission proposal, the Citizens Enquires Unit (Ask EP) pointed out that the ‘draft act’ available on the European Commission website was not an official proposal for a directive. In general, ECIs are a way to help shape the EU, by allowing citizens the opportunity to call on the European Commission to propose new laws. Once an initiative has reached one million signatures, the Commission decides on what action to take.

Among other key topics were a request for action to observe a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of animals in scientific research.

Parliament also received a large number of criticisms of the idea of an ‘EU army‘. While there is certainly no EU army, the EU has recently taken steps to boost defence cooperation.

Improved transparency rules for Members of the European Parliament also raised a number of comments from citizens, following changes to the EP Rules of Procedure agreed in January 2019. The key actors in the legislative process – Members steering legislation through parliament, known as rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs – will be required to publish all scheduled meetings with interest representatives named on the Transparency Register online.

The European Parliament received many letters regarding pollution from maritime transport, calling for a tax on fossil fuels and reinforced maritime transport regulations.

Frequent themes

As in previous years, the functioning and activities of the European Parliament continued to raise interest. Many people wanted to know about Members of the European Parliament’s activities, 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 continued to write to the European Parliament to comment on and ask questions about the Brexit process.

Naturally, Parliament also received a broad range of questions and comments on the European elections and comments on the newly elected European Commission.

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.

The European Commission’s plans to end seasonal clock changes in the European Union (EU) generated a significant share of mail from citizens in 2019. Members voted to end the practice of adjusting clocks by an hour in spring and autumn from 2021. However, the Council is still to finalise its position on the matter and a final decision has not yet been taken.

The Ask EP service received a large amount of correspondence on the new Copyright Directive. In February 2019, after more than two years of protracted negotiations, the co-legislators agreed on a new set of copyright rules.

Citizens also turned to the European Parliament for answers on the political situation outside the EU, for instance in Venezuela, and on Turkish intervention in Syria and Algeria.

Another fundamental area of direct concern frequently shared by people 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 climate change and deforestation.

In 2020, 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.