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Ombudsman calls for less red tape in the EU's new financial rules

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Press release no. 14/2010

10 June 2010

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has called on the European Commission to ensure that EU financial procedures take account of the right to good administration. In a seminar concerning the forthcoming reform of the Union's Financial Regulation, he stressed the importance of reducing unnecessary administrative burdens for businesses, NGOs, organisations and other contractors, as well of respecting their right to be treated fairly.

The Ombudsman also highlighted his ongoing inquiry into the Commission's late payment problems. Announcing a follow-up to his public consultation on the matter, Mr Diamandouros commented: "According to the contributions we received, excessive bureaucracy, lack of coordination and inflexible rules contribute to continuing late payment problems. I invite the Commission to profit from the upcoming reform of the Financial Regulation to tackle the issue systemically."

Reform of the EU rules for EU-funded projects and programmes

On 28 May, the European Commission presented its proposal to reform the Union's Financial Regulation. The European Parliament and the Council will now examine the proposal. The Commission announced that the new Financial Regulation should be operational by 2012.

The Ombudsman has dealt with a large number of complaints from businesses, NGOs and individuals, which are linked to the Regulation. Based on this experience, he recommended measures designed to contribute to a reduction in administrative burdens, better information about legal remedies for applicants and improved rights for sub-contractors. Furthermore, the Ombudsman proposed that the revised Financial Regulation include an explicit provision for ex gratia payments to remedy some cases of serious maladministration. He also suggested that the rules about waiving recovery of sums unduly paid should take account of the new right to good administration included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Ombudsman's suggestions concerning the reform of the Financial Regulation are available at:

http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/resources/otherdocument.faces/en/4957/html.bookmark

The Commission's late payment problems

Based on a substantial number of complaints, the Ombudsman is currently investigating the Commission's delays in payments for EU projects or programmes. In January 2010, he launched a public consultation on that issue. According to the responses received, late payments may well constitute a systemic problem in the Commission. The contributions submitted specifically stress a lack of coordination and excessive bureaucracy in the Commission as reasons for delays. The Ombudsman has now asked the Commission to comment on these contributions, to provide up-to-date information about late payments and to indicate measures taken to reduce these problems.

All relevant documents related to this investigation are available at:

http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/cases/correspondence.faces/en/4955/html.bookmark

The Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the EU institutions, agencies and bodies. Any EU citizen, resident, or an enterprise or association in the EU, can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. The Ombudman's powers include the right to inspect EU documents, call officials to testify, and to open strategic inquiries on her own initiative. For more information: www.ombudsman.europa.eu

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