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Recommendation on how the European Defence Agency handled the applications of its former Chief Executive to take on senior positions at Airbus (OI/3/2021/KR)

Onsdag | 27 oktober 2021

The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry on her own initiative into the decision of the European Defence Authority (EDA) to allow its former Chief Executive to take up two senior positions with Airbus, an aerospace company.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry also looked into how the EDA dealt with the fact that the former Chief Executive took up his new positions before the EDA had authorised him to do so, which is a breach of the EDA’s Staff Regulations.

The Ombudsman found that the conditions imposed on the former Chief Executive by the EDA in its authorising decision were insufficient when measured against the risks, and could not be monitored and enforced. There were also shortcomings in how the EDA assessed the risk of conflicts of interest.

The EDA should have instead applied stronger conditions and forbidden the former Chief Executive from taking up the position which gave rise to the greatest risk of conflict with the EDA’s legitimate interest. Not doing so amounted to maladministration by the EDA.

Based on these findings, the Ombudsman issued two recommendations:

(i) In future, the EDA should forbid its senior staff from taking up positions after their term of office where a clear conflict of interest arises with the legitimate interests of the EDA;

(ii) The EDA should set out the criteria for forbidding such moves, in order to give clarity to senior staff. Applicants for senior EDA posts should be informed of the criteria when they apply.

Afgørelse om EU-Udenrigstjenestens afslag på fuld aktindsigt i dens årlige rapport om gennemførelsen af EU’s permanente strukturerede samarbejde (PESCO) i 2020 (sag 786/2021/LM)

Torsdag | 08 juli 2021

Sagsøgeren søgte aktindsigt i den årlige rapport om gennemførelsen af EU’s permanente strukturerede samarbejde (PESCO) i 2020.

Tjenesten for EU’s Optræden Udadtil (EU-Udenrigstjenesten) offentliggjorde indledende og generelle erklæringer fra rapporten og redigerede de resterende dele. Den anførte, at udbredelsen af de redigerede dele kunne være til skade for beskyttelsen af offentlighedens interesser med hensyn til internationale forbindelser og med hensyn til forsvar og militære anliggender.

Gennemgangen af dokumentet bekræftede, at rapporten indeholder yderst følsomme oplysninger, der kan bringe beskyttelsen med hensyn til forsvar og militære anliggender i fare. Ombudsmanden fandt, at fuld offentliggørelse af oplysningerne i dokumentet ville gøre det muligt for fjendtlige tredjeparter og enheder at forudse, hvilke ressourcer EU vil være i stand til at indsætte, og forbedre deres egen kapacitet for at modvirke EU’s eksterne politiske og strategiske tilgang. Ombudsmanden fandt ligeledes EU-Udenrigstjenestens påberåbelse af undtagelsen baseret på internationale forbindelser overbevisende. Ombudsmanden konkluderede således, at det var berettiget, at EU-Udenrigstjenesten afslog aktindsigt, og afsluttede undersøgelsen med en konklusion om, at der ikke forelå et tilfælde af fejl eller forsømmelser.

Decision in case 163/2020/NH on the failure by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to reply to correspondence concerning alleged irregularities in a disciplinary investigation in an EU civilian mission

Fredag | 04 juni 2021

The case concerned the failure by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to reply to a letter concerning a disciplinary investigation that had taken place in 2017 in an EU civilian mission.

The Ombudsman found that the EEAS had repeatedly failed to reply to the complainant’s letters. Even if the EEAS considered that it could not reply on the substance, due to ongoing legal proceedings, it should have replied and explained this to the complainant. The failure to do so was maladministration.

Since, in the context of the inquiry, the EEAS explained why it believes it cannot give a substantive reply to the complainant, the Ombudsman did not make a recommendation to this end. She trusts, however, that the EEAS will take this finding on board going forward.