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Recruitment issues and the role of the European Ombudsman

The EU administration recruits hundreds of staff members every year through different types of recruitment procedures. These procedures must follow certain rules and the principles of good administration.

Recruitment procedures normally involve a selection board, which is responsible for assessing candidates and drawing up the final list of candidates suitable for recruitment. Selection boards are bound in their work by the selection criteria, but have a wide margin of discretion when assessing candidates’ qualifications and professional experience against those criteria. The rules governing these procedures are usually set out in the vacancy notice or procedure notice.

The Ombudsman’s role in recruitment cases is mainly to examine whether there has been a manifest error of assessment by the selection board or any procedural shortcomings. This implies that the Ombudsman will not reassess an application or the performance of a candidate in a test or interview. The Ombudsman can, however, obtain explanations about how the selection board assessed an application or a candidate’s performance to ensure that the procedure was carried out properly.

Before turning to the Ombudsman, the candidate must first make use of the remedies that should be indicated in the notice, and allow the administration sufficient time to reply.