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Decision in case 1739/2016/DR on the alleged slow processing of a complaint by the European Investment Bank in the Complaints Mechanism

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  • Case: 1739/2016/DR
    Opened on 21 Dec 2016 - Decision on 26 Apr 2017
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Investment Bank

The case concerned the alleged slow processing of a complaint by the European Investment Bank in the Complaints Mechanism. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Complaints Mechanism complied with the time-limits for replying to complaints set out in its internal rules. The Ombudsman therefore found no maladministration.

The background to the complaint.

  1. The complainant is the CEO of a holding company based in Guadeloupe.
  2. On 11 May 2015, the complainant submitted to the European Investment Bank (EIB) a project under the European Fund for Strategic Investments[1].
  3. In the absence of a decision by the EIB on the project, on 13 September 2016 the complainant submitted a complaint to the EIB’s Complaints Mechanism (EIB-CM), arguing that, 16 months after submitting the project, the EIB had yet to take a decision on it.
  4. On 27 September 2016, the EIB-CM acknowledged receipt of the complaint and informed the complainant that she would receive a response by 24 November 2016 at the latest.
  5. On 24 November 2016, the EIB­CM extended the deadline to reply to the complainant by 21 April 2017 at the latest. On the same day, the complainant wrote back and argued that it would be very difficult to wait for a reply until 21 April 2017, because such a long period would jeopardize the project.
  6. Unhappy with the extended date, the complainant turned, on the same day, to the Ombudsman.
  7. Following the Ombudsman’s intervention, on 23 December 2016, the EIB­CM forwarded to the complainant the EIB’s decision of 21 December 2016. The EIB decided not to support the complainant’s project.

 

The inquiry

  1. The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the alleged slow handling by the EIB in its Complaints Mechanism of the complainant’s complaint.
  2. In the course of the inquiry, the Ombudsman duly considered the information provided in the complaint. In particular, she carried out a thorough analysis of the correspondence that had taken place between the EIB-CM and the complainant before and after the complainant turned to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman also carried out her own research in relation to the matter complained about.

 

Allegation of slow processing of a complaint by the European Investment Bank in the Complaints Mechanism

Arguments made by the complainant and the institution

  1. The complainant considered that the processing of her complaint by the EIB-CM was too slow.
  2. The EIB-CM did not put forward any argument in this respect.

 

The Ombudsman's assessment

  1. The Ombudsman notes that, according to the EIB-CM’s internal rules concerning time delays for dealing with a complaint, a reply on a complaint must be sent to the complainant by no later than 40 working days after the date of the acknowledgement of its receipt. For complex issues, or for reasons beyond the sphere of influence of the EIB-CM, the deadline for providing a final reply may be extended, after having informed the complainant thereof, for an additional maximum period of 100 working days[2].
  2. In this case, the complainant submitted her complaint to the EIB-CM on 13 September 2016. The EIB-CM acknowledged receipt on 27 September 2016 and extended the deadline to reply to it on 24 November 2017, that is, before the expiring of the 40 working days time-limit.
  3. The extended deadline was thus in line with the above mentioned internal rules. The Ombudsman notes that, following her intervention, the EIB-CM eventually replied to the complainant well before the expiring of the extended deadline. The complainant did not make any further comment in this respect in her subsequent correspondence with the Ombudsman.
  4. Having regard to all of the above, the Ombudsman considers that there was no maladministration by the EIB.

 

Conclusion

On the basis of the inquiry into this complaint, the Ombudsman closes it with the following conclusion[3]:

There was no maladministration.

The complainant and the European Investment Bank will be informed of this decision.

Strasbourg, 26/04/2017

Lambros Papadias

Head of Inquiries - Unit 3

 

[1] The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is helping to finance infrastructure and innovation projects as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap companies. It supports support strategic investments in key areas such as infrastructure, education, research and innovation, as well as risk finance for small businesses. The EFSI is implemented by the EIB.

[2] Article 10.2 of the Complaints Mechanism Principles, Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure, available here: http://www.eib.org/attachments/strategies/complaints_mechanism_policy_en.pdf.

[3] Information on the review procedure can be found on the Ombudsman’s website: http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/resources/otherdocument.faces/en/70669/html.bookmark