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Refusal to reimburse in full travel costs incurred in order to attend an interview

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  • Case: 2178/2011/KM
    Opened on 29 Nov 2011 - Decision on 09 Apr 2013
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Parliament
  • Field(s) of law: General, financial and institutional matters
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Lawfulness (incorrect application of substantive and/or procedural rules) [Article 4 ECGAB],Fairness [Article 11 ECGAB]
  • Subject matter(s): Administration and Staff Regulations
Copyright: Stocklib.com

Summary of the decision on complaint 2178/2011/KM against the European Parliament

The complainant, a German national, participated in a competition for a position at the European Parliament. On 15 April 2011, after the written test, he was told that the invitations for the interviews would probably be sent in mid-June. He thus went on holiday, as planned, in May. However, on 13 May 2011, he received an e-mail (which he only read on 26 May 2011) inviting him to attend an interview in Brussels on 30 May 2011. He therefore had to book a flight from Rome at short notice.

He requested that he be reimbursed for the cost of this flight, that is, EUR 559.60. Parliament rejected his request. It argued that, since the complainant had not applied to have his address changed on Parliament's records, it could only reimburse him on the basis of the distance between his place of residence in Germany and Brussels, that is, EUR 221.08. The complainant turned to the European Ombudsman, who opened an inquiry.

In its opinion, Parliament maintained that it had correctly applied the relevant rules. Taking account of the particular facts of the case, the Ombudsman asked it to address the question of fairness. In reply, Parliament stated that it had treated the complainant fairly and underlined that it could not pay a higher sum because it had received no written notification from the complainant.

The Ombudsman agreed that the rules impose three conditions for a change of address to be acceptable: (i) the circumstances must be exceptional; (ii) the change must occur at least 15 days before the test; and (iii) a written request must be made. He was pleased that Parliament accepted that the first condition was fulfilled and showed some flexibility by choosing not to apply the second condition. However, Parliament insisted on the third condition. The Ombudsman considered that this position was unduly formalistic and did not take sufficient account of the complainant's specific situation. He therefore proposed that Parliament reconsider the complainant's request for full reimbursement.

Parliament accepted the Ombudsman's proposal and paid the complainant the remainder of his travel costs. The complainant expressed his satisfaction with this outcome and thanked the Ombudsman for his efforts. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case.