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Sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union

This case concerned corporate sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The complainant considered that the Council should regulate or prohibit such sponsorship. The Council refused to address the matter, arguing that the sponsorship of the Presidency was the sole responsibility of the Member State government holding the Presidency.

The Ombudsman noted that, as the Presidency is part of the Council, its activities are likely to be perceived by the wider European public as being linked to the Council and the EU as a whole. As such, the use of sponsorship by the Presidency entails reputational risks which the Council should address. The Ombudsman therefore recommended that, to mitigate those risks, the Council should provide guidance to the Member States on the issue of sponsorship of the Presidency.

The Council accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendation, announcing its intention to consider issuing best practice guidance to the Member States. The Ombudsman welcomed the Council’s decision and closed the inquiry.