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The Committee on Petitions

Diana Wallis is a full member of the Committee on Petitions which is the committee responsible for petitions and relations with the European Ombudsman. Any citizen of the European Union, or any person residing in a Member State has the right to petition the European Parliament on a matter which (a) comes with the European Community's fields of activity and (b) affects him or her directly.

The Committee receives over a thousand petitions every year (more than one hundred from the UK), some supported by many thousand signatures. The Committee always forwards petitions to the European Commission which comes forward with information on the issue. It regularly carries out fact-finding missions in various Member States to investigate breaches of EU law. The petitioners often come themselves to present their case before the Committee, and this is a unique opportunity to see what citizens concretely expect from Europe and also which are the areas of European law that are the least well implemented by the Member States.

Petitions enhance Parliament's ability to exercise its power of political oversight in response to the concerns of EU citizens, particularly regarding potentially serious infringements of EU law or lack of respect for their fundamental and basic rights. Examples of recent petitions include such diverse areas as the deficiencies of laser eye surgery, the deregulation of Ireland's taxi industry, and unauthorized truck-parking in Britain, UK customs and excise rules, and confiscation of automobiles by the Greek authorities.

Diana's article (Nov 2006): An EU Toolbox for Citizens and Campaigners

Equitable Life petitions / Committee of Inquiry

Following the adoption by Parliament of a report concluding an 18-month Committee of Inquiry, many of the conclusions and recommendations in the report remain to be implemented. Both main Equitable life petitions remain open, and the Petitions Committee considered the matter at its meetings in January and June 2008. At the latest meeting on 25 June, Diana Wallis said that the problems identified in the report are even more likely to occur again in modern circumstances with the global 'credit crunch' and that although there is "better implementation and enforcement of EC legislation in Member States, it can be better and faster".

Browse Diana's page on Equitable Life

Thule B52 Bomber crash

10 May 2007:

The Wallis report was approved by an overwhelming majority by Parliament's plenary (544 in favour, 29 against, 40 abstaining). Diana's speech is available here:

Speech on 9 May 2007 in plenary

27 March 2007: Diana's report in adopted by an overwhelming majority in the Petitions Committee. The report will be likely to go to the May plenary to be voted on by all MEPs.

Click here to see the Report tabled for plenary

During the Vietnam war, 1,202 Danish civilian personnel were employed to provide maintenance and other non- military services at the US Air Base at Thule, Greenland. On January 21st. 1968, a US B- 52 with at least 4 nuclear bombs on board crashed near the Thule Air Base, releasing 6 kilos, (13.3 lbs) of weapons grade plutonium. Danish civilian personnel, local Greenlanders and US personnel raced to the crash site to attempt rescue operations. The plutonium contaminated the immediate snow and ice at the crash site and was carried by high winds over an extensive area.

The Danish authorities, which control Greenland, were informed in 1965 that the Americans had been storing nuclear weapons at Thule - against their wishes. Although Thule was no longer used as a weapons store, it was still embarrassing for the US to admit planes carrying nuclear weapons were regularly flying in Danish airspace. It took 700 men over nine months to remove all the contaminated material including snow from the crash site.

The question here is whether a Euratom Directive on the protection of workers applies to the civilian rescuers who helped clean the crash site and who are now suffering from various diseases.

thule base

Thule air base in Greenland

B52 US bomber

B52 Bomber (US Army)

Diana Wallis is draftsperson for a report on the Application of Community Law. Essentially this opinion aims to see how citizens are affected by Member States' failure to adequately implement EU law and what can be done to improve the situation. Furthermore, the opinion addresses the relation between the European Commission, whose task it is to make sure EU law is properly applied in all 25 Member States, and the Parliament's Committee on Petitions. This report was adopted and formed part of the "Better Lawmaking" debate which was voted on in the May 2006 plenary in Strasbourg. Diana Wallis successfully introduced an amendment calling for a one-page "citizens' summary" of all EU legislative acts so that law makers would be reminded of their primary audience. This proposals were in line with and supported by the UK Plain Language Commission. The Commission (Mrs Wallstrom) responded favourably to this proposal and made a commitment during the June 2006 plenary to introduce these summaries into all Commission proposals. Diana Wallis is seeking to pursue this issue in order to have the summaries introduced as quickly and efficiently as possible

Read Diana's opinion on the application of Community Law

Spanish "Land Grab" Petitions

Several petitions, supported by more than 15 000 signatures, concerning the abuse by property developers of Spanish building legislation gave rise to a strong condemnation by the whole Parliament that such practices are clearly contrary to European standards. The Committee was in close contact with the Spanish authorities and the petitioners, and visited the affected region twice in the past two years. Diana Wallis has actively supported this report during its different stages and has fought off several attempts to seriously weaken it. Subsequently, on 13 December 2005, the Parliament as a whole approved the report with a very large majority (550 members in favour).