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Summary decision in case 1375/2016/JAS on the European Commission’s handling of concerns regarding the renewal of the approval of the herbicide ingredient glyphosate

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  • Case: 1375/2016/JAS
    Opened on 09 Feb 2017 - Decision on 08 Feb 2017
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Commission

The case concerned the European Commission’s engagement with the complainant, a British national, who had been in contact with it for more than a year regarding the renewal of approval for glyphosate, an active ingredient in weed-killers. Following several exchanges of correspondence, the Commission decided not to reply any longer to the complainant. The complainant said that he had continued to write to the Commission as he believed it had not properly addressed the valid concerns he had raised.

It constitutes good administration for a public body to correspond properly with citizens. This is particularly important for EU institutions, such as the Commission, since there is always a greater inherent risk for such supranational bodies to appear remote to citizens. However, it is also in the public interest that efforts to maintain contacts with citizens be reasonable and proportionate. If correspondence from a citizen becomes repetitive, it may serve no useful purpose to continue with that correspondence.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission had on a number of occasions addressed the issues and concerns raised in the complainant’s letters. It had explained in detail the process of scientific evaluation put in place to evaluate substances such as glyphosate. Furthermore, no decision has yet been taken on whether to renew the approval of glyphosate; pending that decision, the existing approval has been extended in the short term. The Ombudsman thus concluded that the Commission had adequately communicated with the complainant and that there had been no maladministration by the Commission.