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Ombudsman publishes decision on complaint by Intel

Available languages: de.en.fr

Press release no. 19/2009

18 November 2009

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has published a non-confidential version of his decision on a complaint by micro-chip producer Intel against the European Commission. The complaint concerned alleged procedural errors by the Commission during an anti-trust investigation of Intel. The Ombudsman found maladministration on the grounds that the Commission failed to make a proper note of a meeting with computer manufacturer Dell relating to the Intel investigation.

Mr Diamandouros commented "I hope that my decision in this case will help the Commission to improve its administrative procedures by ensuring that its future anti-trust investigations are fully documented."

The Ombudsman's decision

Intel submitted the complaint on 10 July 2008. In its first allegation, it argued that the Commission failed to take minutes of a meeting with a senior Dell executive held on 23 August 2006, even though the meeting directly concerned the subject-matter of the Commission's anti-trust investigation of Intel.

The Ombudsman found that the meeting of 23 August 2006 did concern the subject-matter of the Commission investigation. He also found that the Commission did not make a proper note of that meeting and that its investigation file did not include the agenda of the meeting. The Ombudsman concluded that this constituted maladministration. He did not, however, make any finding as to whether the Commission had infringed Intel's rights of defence.

The Ombudsman did not make a finding of maladministration in relation to Intel's second allegation, which was that the Commission encouraged Dell to enter into an information exchange agreement with micro-chip producer AMD. In the complainant's view, this agreement gave AMD access to information contained in the Commission's investigation file. The Ombudsman did find, however, that the Commission failed to make a proper note of a telephone call between the Commission and Dell, in which the information exchange agreement was discussed. Such a note would have helped to clarify the relevant facts. He thus recommended, in a further remark, that, in the future, proper notes should be made of any meetings or telephone calls with third parties concerning important procedural issues.

During his in-depth inquiry, the Ombudsman obtained three opinions from the Commission and conducted an inspection of documents at the Commission's premises. His decision, which was classified as confidential, was sent to the Commission and Intel on 14 July 2009. The preparation of the non-confidential version of the decision required consultation with Intel, Dell and AMD to ensure that publication would not harm the interests of the complainant or of a third party.

A summary of the decision is available in all official languages at:

http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/cases/summary.faces/en/4399/html.bookmark

The Ombudsman's decision is available at:

http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/cases/decision.faces/en/4164/html.bookmark

The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the EU institutions and bodies. Any EU citizen, resident, or an enterprise or association in a Member State, can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman offers a fast, flexible, and free means of solving problems with the EU administration. For more information: www.ombudsman.europa.eu

For press inquiries: Ms Gundi Gadesmann, Deputy Head of the Communication Unit, tel.: +32 2 284 26 09, Twitter: @EUombudsman

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