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European Ombudsman carries out a series of inquiries and initiatives into the COVID-19 response in the EU administration

In response to the unprecedented situation created by COVID-19, many of the EU institutions, agencies and bodies were required to adopt targeted measures and/or to adapt their working processes to deal with the challenges of the emergency. These ranged from helping to coordinate the public health response in the EU and the approval of dedicated medicines to economic measures to address the social and economic impact of the crisis.

In April 2020, the Ombudsman began examining the work of the EU administration in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. As a first step, at that stage, she drew the attention of the European Commission and Council to the fact that their obligations concerning transparency were not diminished in the crisis response.

In July 2020, the Ombudsman launched a series of inquiries and initiatives, looking at specific aspects of the work of different EU institutions, agencies and bodies.

On 20 July 2020, the Ombudsman launched a strategic initiative, looking into the transparency of the measures introduced by the European Investment Bank in response to the COVID-19 crisis. As a first step, the Ombudsman is looking at the transparency of the terms and criteria related to new financing measures for small and medium-sized enterprises.

On 24 July 2020, the Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the work carried out by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in gathering and assessing data linked to the COVID-19 crisis.

On 27 July 2020, the Ombudsman took the first steps in her inquiry into the COVID-19 response of the Council of the EU, notably as regards the transparency of its decision making. In particular, the inquiry is looking at the Council’s decision to derogate, temporarily, from its Rules of Procedure during the crisis, and the implications this has had for its decision-making process and the transparency thereof.

On 29 July 2020, as a follow up to her letter in April, the Ombudsman set out a series of more detailed questions to the European Commission, notably regarding transparency related to public procurement, scientific advice and lobbying activities in the context of the crisis.

On 29 July 2020, the Ombudsman wrote to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to ask about EMA’s newly established pandemic task force (COVID-ETF), which was created to help take quick and coordinated regulatory action on the development, authorisation and safety monitoring of medicines intended for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.