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Queries from Members of the Network

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On 12 October 2015, the Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly adopted a new strategy document "Reforming the European Network of Ombudsmen", which was communicated to and shared with all the members of the Network. She noted that: "[t]hrough the query procedure, in which the European Ombudsman assists Network members by obtaining expert replies from the EU institutions, many national and regional ombudsman investigations have been resolved in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.

However, the query procedure has become cumbersome and time-consuming. The European Ombudsman will, therefore, reform the procedure internally by fast-tracking it for quicker results. This means that Network offices can submit queries as in the past and be sure to receive an answer in time to use it for their own inquiries".

The European Ombudsman has decided that the Inquiries Unit 1 of her Office shall deal with all the queries submitted by the national Ombudsmen using the expeditious procedure (described below) vis-a-vis the European Commission.

This procedure includes the following steps:

  • submission of the query directly by the case handler or another authorised person in the national Ombudsman's office by e-mail addressed to the Head of the European Ombudsman's Unit 1 or by the 'Queries' e-form - as explained below;
  • analysis of the query by the Unit 1 within a maximum period of 2 working days;
  • sending a request for opinion on the EU law-related issue raised in the query to the Secretariat General of the Commission or any other Institution, body or agency concerned;
  • reply sent to the European Ombudsman by the services of the relevant Commission's Directorate-General, in coordination with the Secretariat General, or by any other Institution, body or agency concerned if possible within 2 weeks;
  • verification of the completeness of that reply by Unit 1 within the following working day;
  • if the reply to the query does not require further contacts with the Commission, other Institution, body or agency concerned invitation to submit observations by the author of the query, within 7 days;
  • unless further opinion from the Commission, other Institution, body or agency concerned is needed, closure of the query procedure;
  • and publication of the query and of the Commission's reply in the 'Queries' Section of the ENONET in agreement with the author of the query.

The entire procedure should take a maximum period of 20 working days unless the Commission asks for more time to prepare the reply to the query.

The 'Queries' section of the ENONET will be modernised by Unit 1 (ICT sector) and, very soon, a specially designed 'Queries' e-form will be at the Network's disposal, automatically redirected to Unit 1.

The new procedure as regards the queries from national Ombudsmen has become applicable as from the date of the publication of the new Strategy.