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Decision of the European Ombudsman on complaint 459/98/OV against the European Commission

Strasbourg, 29 July 1998

Dear X,
On 4 May 1998 you made a complaint to the European Ombudsman concerning the reasons of the refusal of the European Commission (Directorate General 1B/D/3, External Relations, Generalized tariff preferences and investment, ECIP - European Community Investment Partners) to co-finance a joint venture project in Indonesia in the context of the ECIP Financial Instrument.
On 11 May 1998 you sent additional documentation on your complaint. On 29 June 1998 I received from the Commission copies of letters, which it had sent to the to the Financial Institutions involved in the project.
On 6 July 1998 you sent a letter informing me of your meeting with the ECIP Head of sector.


According to complainant, the relevant facts were as follows :
The complaint to the Ombudsman was made on behalf of company Y, and concerned the conditions in which the European Commission (DG 1B/D/3) refused to co-finance a joint venture project in Indonesia (letter of 16 March 1998). The application, made by the authorized Financial Institution, the ABN Amro Bank, on behalf of the complainant's client, was rejected because "the action, as presented, seems consultancy-driven, and therefore not eligible".
The Financial Institution was informed by ECIP that the consultant concerned (i.e. the complainant) figured on the ECIP's black list and that therefore the project could not be co-financed by ECIP. However, the complainant was never informed directly by ECIP of this negative evaluation which was harmful for its reputation, and had no opportunity to refute the allegation. Therefore the complainant suffered damage and lost a client. Further to a request from ECIP for detailed information on its consultancy projects, the complainant asked on 18 March 1998 to have a meeting on the subject with ECIP. Given that this request was not answered, the complainant wrote to the Director of ECIP on 28 April 1998 asking again for a meeting in order to clarify the situation of mistrust in the company. ECIP finally replied on 5 May 1998 that the information it requested from the complainant would be obtained directly from the Financial Institutions involved in the respective actions. The complainant replied by asking again for a meeting with ECIP.
In your letter of 6 July 1998 you informed me that you had had a meeting with the ECIP Head of sector which had clarified to your satisfaction the situation subject of your complaint, and that, therefore, you did not need to further pursue your complaint.


  1. The complainant was unable to refute the above mentioned allegation which it considered incorrect and damaging to the company. It had on several occasions asked for a meeting with ECIP in order to clarify the situation of mistrust.
  2. In the letter of 6 July 1998, the complainant informed the Ombudsman that it had finally had a meeting with the Head of sector and the Technical Assistance Unit of ECIP on the subject matter of the complaint. This meeting had clarified the situation to the satisfaction of the complainant. Moreover, proper actions had been taken to remove any possible misunderstanding with the Financial Institutions. Therefore the complainant did not need to further pursue the complaint to the Ombudsman.
  3. Conclusion
    It appears from the complainant's last letter that the Commission has taken steps to settle the matter and has thereby satisfied the complainant. The Ombudsman has therefore decided to close the case.

Yours sincerely
Jacob Söderman
Jacques SANTER, President of the European Commission
Jean-Claude EECKHOUT, Director