“Not paying attention to the voice of the European citizens has led to a serious democratic deficit within the EU. We need to empower citizens with the right practical information and problem-solving tools to help decrease the growing anti-EU sentiment. However, in order to do so, we need to move closer to citizens and to strengthen their communication with EU institutions,” said MEP Marlene Mizzi at this year’s annual Conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen.
MEP Marlene Mizzi was invited by Emily O’ Reilly, the EU Ombudsman , as one of the keynote speakers at this year’s conference in Brussels in her capacity as a Vice-Chair of the PETI Committee, where the different cross-border solving tools available to citizens were addressed. The high level discussion was attended by national Ombudsmen and stakeholders from all around Europe.
In her intervention, MEP Mizzi focused on citizens’ right to petition, as well as other institutional mechanisms such as a complaint to the European Ombudsman, the European Citizens Initiative and the Single Digital Gateway. “The key element in all these mechanisms is to enable the voice of citizens to be heard by the EU institutions and to encourage a greater participative democracy,” said Marlene Mizzi.
“I have been S&D rapporteur on all the different files dealing with cross-border solving tools, such as the European Ombudsman and the revision of the Citizens Initiative and the Single Digital Gateway. However, I believe that the Petitions Committee, is the parliamentary committee that is closest to our citizens as it empowers them with the right to directly complain to their elected representatives in European Parliament. Helping citizens and empowering them with the right problem-solving tools has always been the aim and core role of the petitions committee,” said MEP Mizzi.
“While an extensive array of online information, advice and assistance for European citizens is already available, awareness of these services is very low. Despite all the existing mechanisms in place, it seems to me that people do not possess enough information about them, if any at all. Lack of knowledge and information, coupled with difficulty of communication between citizens and public authorities involved in the decision-making processes, both at national and EU level, generates complexity for citizens in identifying the most appropriate service and understanding of the different competencies,” said Marlene Mizzi.