Saturday, 3 November 2007

MEPs get taste of people power

Citizens can petition the European Parliament in person. European politicians have to deal with a lot of funny questions, but here is one of the funniest: why are tomatoes in Greece watching television?
It was a problem noticed by a Greek farmer, who was so concerned he decided to take it to the European Parliament Petitions Committee.
It is an enshrined right of any European citizen to bring forward a petition to the parliament and, if judged admissible, it will be taken very seriously indeed.
The farmer's complaint was that all Greek electricity bills contain a payment towards the television licence, regardless of what the electricity is being used for. But why, the farmer asked, should he pay this portion when he was using electricity solely to heat a shed of tomatoes? They certainly were not watching television!
His petition was found to be inadmissible in the end, but it was just one of around 1,500 petitions considered in one year by the Petitions Committee, which sits regularly in the European Parliament building.