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EU personnel issues (staff complaints) and the role of the European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman can examine complaints from staff members of the EU administration. However, the Ombudsman does not have the power to overturn a decision taken by the administration.

Before turning to the Ombudsman, the staff member in question must have made full use of the applicable internal administrative complaints procedure. For most cases, the procedure is the one set in Article 90 of the EU Staff Regulations.

However, if an EU institution, body, organisation or agency has simply failed to reply to a request for information from a member of staff, the Ombudsman may suggest to the administration that it reply, even if the internal complaints procedure has not been used.

The EU administration has wide discretion in how it organises its human resources and evaluates staff performance. As such, the Ombudsman will normally open an inquiry into a staff complaint only if there is indication of possible manifest errors of assessment or of serious procedural or systemic shortcomings.

The Ombudsman has a formal role in ensuring the EU administration complies with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Ombudsman also has a role in ensuring the EU administration complies with its obligations to ensure dignity in the workplace (including regarding anti-harassment).