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Decision of the European Ombudsman in the case 1287/2020/TM on the European Central Bank’s alleged unfairness in the recruitment procedure for trainees

Dear Mr X,

On 28 July 2020, you submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman against the European Central Bank (ECB) concerning the above issue. You argued that the ECB did not use fair selection criteria. You would like the ECB to select you for its upcoming Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) traineeship programme.

After a careful analysis of all the information you provided, we have decided to close the inquiry with the following conclusion:

Based on the information you provided in the complaint, there was no maladministration by the ECB.

According to EU case law, selection boards have a wide margin of discretion when assessing candidates and their performance. The margin of discretion given to the selection board means that the Ombudsman can question the assessment done by the selection board only in case of a manifest error[1]. The Ombudsman’s inquiries in such cases are limited to ensuring that a reasonable and clear explanation is communicated to the complainant as to why the candidate has not been selected.

We note that the ECB explained in detail why it decided not select you for the position of trainee. The selection board provided detailed feedback on the answers you provided during the interview. You did not put forward any arguments to substantiate your allegations of unfairness in the selection process.

Finally, please note that we could not examine your allegation that “there were many audio/video delays and internet connection problems with [the] platform during the online interview” as it is inadmissible because you did not raise it with the ECB before turning to the Ombudsman[2].

Although we understand you will be disappointed with this reply, we nevertheless hope you find these explanations helpful.

Yours sincerely,


Marta Hirsch-Ziembińska
Head of Inquiries and ICT - Unit 1

Strasbourg, 07/08/2020


[1] According to the case law, a candidate’s personal belief about the relevance of their experience and how they answered the questions cannot call into question the selection board’s assessment and does not constitute evidence of manifest error by the selection board.

[2] According to Article 2(4) of the Statute of the European Ombudsman, the complainant must first have contacted the EU body concerned with a view to resolving the problem, before complaining to the Ombudsman.