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Omission of Christian holidays from the Europa Diary 2010/2011 edition

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  • Case: 0260/2011/GG
    Opened on 14 Feb 2011 - Decision on 12 Apr 2011
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Commission
  • Field(s) of law: Environment, consumers and health protection
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Absence of discrimination [Article 5 ECGAB]
  • Subject matter(s): Institutional and policy matters
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Summary of decision on complaint 260/2011/(NF)GG against the European Commission

Since 2003, the European Commission has been responsible for the annual publishing of the Europa Diary – a school diary for secondary school students.

At the end of 2010, the Commission's attention was drawn to the fact that the Europa Diary 2010/2011 edition, while mentioning some holidays of other world religions, omitted Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

The complainant was frustrated by this omission, and therefore turned to the European Ombudsman on 25 January 2011. He claimed that the Commission should recall the Europa Diary 2010/2011 edition which had already been distributed, apologise for the omission, and reprint a 2010/2011 edition including Christian holidays. Given that the Commission was clearly aware of the matter, the Ombudsman considered that it was not necessary for the complainant to make individual administrative approaches to the Commission.

The Ombudsman informed the complainant that the Commission had meanwhile published a notice on its website in which it addressed the omission, apologised for it, and announced remedial action. The complainant was invited to submit observations on the Commission's notice and the action announced therein. However, no such observations were received.

The Ombudsman noted that the Commission had indeed omitted Christian holidays from the Europa Diary 2010/2011 edition. However, the Commission subsequently acknowledged this error and apologised for it. It also sent a corrigendum to all teachers who had ordered the Europa Diary 2010/2011 edition, including a one-page addendum to the diary outlining the main public holidays in each Member State.

With regard to the complainant's claim, the Ombudsman noted that the relevant diary covers the school year 2010/2011 and not the calendar year 2011. It would therefore only be used for a few more months. Also taking into account that, according to the Commission, the diary had been sent to several million students, the Ombudsman was not convinced that the solution requested by the complainant would be proportionate. In addition, the remedial action taken by the Commission did not appear to be unreasonable.

In view of the above, and the fact that the complainant did not submit any observations contesting the adequacy of the Commission's remedial action, the Ombudsman concluded that there were no grounds for further inquiries into the case.