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Decision on how the European Commission dealt with a complaint that a winner of the EIC Horizon Prize on Blockchains for Social Good infringed intellectual property rights (case 1756/2020/VS)

Τετάρτη | 06 Οκτωβρίου 2021

The case concerned how the European Commission dealt with a complaint that one of the winners of the 2018 EIC Horizon Prize on Blockchains for Social Good infringed intellectual property rights.

The complainant contacted the Commission arguing that one of the winning entries was almost identical to a utility model, which the complainant owned. The complainant considered that the Commission did not investigate the concerns properly and therefore complained to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman found that, in the course of the inquiry, the Commission provided sufficient information about the actions it had taken in reaction to the complainant’s concerns and about its conclusion. The Ombudsman also found that the conclusion reached by the Commission, namely that the dispute should be settled by a court, is reasonable. The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry finding no maladministration by the Commission. To ensure greater clarity in future, the Ombudsman encourages the Commission, in the context of future innovation contests and awards, to proactively inform contestants and other stakeholders of its approach to related intellectual property rights disputes.

Decision in case 10/2021/DDJ on how the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) assessed the experience of a candidate in a selection procedure for EU staff in the field of international cooperation

Τρίτη | 18 Μαΐου 2021

The case concerned how the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) assessed the complainant’s professional experience in a selection procedure for recruiting EU civil servants in the field of international cooperation.

The Ombudsman found nothing to suggest a manifest error how the selection board assessed the complainant’s qualifications. The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Recommendation in case 1777/2020/KR on how the European Commission handled concerns about the composition of the High Level Forum on the EU Capital Markets Union and alleged conflicts of interest of some of its members

Τρίτη | 04 Μαΐου 2021

The case concerned the High Level Forum on the proposed EU Capital Markets Union, a Commission expert group. The Forum gathered senior industry executives and top international experts and scholars to develop new ideas on related policies for the Commission.

The Forum had two types of members:

Type A - who were appointed in their personal capacity to act independently and in the public interest;

Type B - members who represented a common interest of different stakeholder organisations.

The complainant was concerned that a number of Type A members had links to financial institutions and could, as such, not be considered independent. After the Forum’s recommendations were made public, these members’ declarations of interests were no longer publicly available. In general, the complainant was concerned that the Forum’s composition was insufficiently broad and diverse.

The Ombudsman inquiry found two instances of maladministration:

1. Instead of following its own rules on conflicts of interest for Type A members, the Commission applied general measures to mitigate risks of conflicts of interest. These measures were insufficient.

2. Consequently, the split between the two types of Forum members deviated significantly from the balance that the Commission claimed it struck, and made public.

Based on her inquiry, the Ombudsman recommends that the Commission diligently apply its rules regarding conflicts of interest for individuals applying to be appointed as Type A members of expert groups. Other mitigating measures to address risks of conflicts of interest of Type A members may be taken in addition, but should not substitute the Commission’s rules to this end.