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Common Foreign and Security Policy

Showing 1 - 20 of 30 results

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 119/2015/PHP on the European Commission's handling of a request for public access to documents related to TTIP

Wednesday | 04 November 2015

The case concerned a request for access to documents concerning the Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The Commission denied access to some of the requested documents on grounds of the protection of international relations and the decision-making process. The complainants turned to the Ombudsman and argued that the Commission had not sufficiently justified the refusal to grant access and had failed to make a document-by-document assessment. Moreover, the complainants referred to the existence of an overriding public interest when environmental information is concerned.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration by the Commission. In her closing decision, the Ombudsman observed that some of the concerns raised by the complainants had already been addressed in the context of the Ombudsman's own-initiative inquiry on the transparency of the TTIP negotiations. She has therefore decided to close the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1777/2014/PHP on the European Commission's handling of a request for public access to documents concerning TTIP

Friday | 30 October 2015

The case concerned a request for access to documents related to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The Commission refused access to certain documents on the grounds of the protection of international relations and the decision-making process. The complainant turned to the Ombudsman and argued that the Commission had failed to justify the exceptions invoked and its view that there was no overriding public interest in disclosing the requested documents.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission's decision to refuse access to the requested documents was well-founded. In addition, the Ombudsman noted that the complainant's underlying concerns had been comprehensively examined by the Ombudsman in her own-initiative inquiry on the transparency of the TTIP negotiations. She has therefore decided to close the case.

Decision in case 689/2014/JAS on the Council's handling of a request for public access to documents regarding Iran sanctions

Wednesday | 02 September 2015

The complaint was made by an entity subject to EU imposed restrictive measures. It complained about the Council of the European Union's handling of a request for public access to documents related to a meeting of the Council's Foreign Relations Counsellors "Sanctions" formation Working Party, where various issues in relation to restrictive measures against Iran had been discussed.

The Council refused to release some parts of the documents in question, arguing that the release would undermine the protection of the public interest as regards international relations and would seriously undermine the Council's decision-making-process. The rest of the documents, not covered by these exceptions, were released.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Council was justified in refusing access to those parts of the documents which it had withheld. Therefore, the Ombudsman concluded that there was no maladministration by the Council.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the own-initiative inquiry OI/15/2014/PMC into the way in which the European External Action Service (EEAS) handles allegations of serious irregularities involving the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Kosovo

Thursday | 04 December 2014

After the Ombudsman's attention had been drawn to certain alleged serious irregularities affecting the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Kosovo by an EULEX Prosecutor as well as by the media, the Ombudsman decided to open an own-initiative inquiry in order to assess whether the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EULEX had properly investigated or are properly investigating these allegations.

In order to ascertain what action needed to be taken by her, the Ombudsman inspected the EEAS's/EULEX's file concerning the matter. The inspection showed that EULEX had conducted a preliminary internal investigation and had recruited an external prosecutor to investigate the irregularities. In addition, the EEAS had appointed an experienced expert to review EULEX's mandate from a systemic point of view, with a particular focus on the allegations raised.

The Ombudsman noted that EULEX did not follow its standard procedure for investigating such allegations. She also found that the way in which the external prosecutor was recruited needed to be examined. However, given that the expert recently appointed by the EU High Representative has made it clear that these issues will form part of the review to be carried out by him, the Ombudsman took the view that there was no need for further action on her part at present.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 681/2013/TN against the Council of the European Union

Tuesday | 20 May 2014

The case concerns the Council's failure to take steps to ensure that a company established in the United Arab Emirates be removed from the lists of companies with connections to Iran on which restrictive measures were imposed. Inclusion in the lists meant that the assets of the company were frozen.

In December 2012, the General Court of the European Union ruled that the company's inclusion in the lists was illegal. When the Council did not react to that ruling by removing the company from the lists, the company complained to the European Ombudsman.

In the context of the inquiry, the Council took a constructive approach. It explained, in the preambles of it subsequent acts concerning restrictive measures against Iran, that the company was no longer included in the lists of persons and entities subject to restrictive measures.

The Ombudsman thus found that the Council had taken appropriate steps to settle the matter complained about.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing his own-initiative inquiry OI/12/2010/(BEH)MMN concerning the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the High Representative / European External Action Service

Friday | 30 August 2013

This case concerns the issue of accountability for maladministration in the activities of civilian and military missions in the context of the Common Security and Defence Policy ('CSDP'). In view of the uncertainties as to which institution or body would be competent to remedy possible instances of maladministration, the Ombudsman opened an own-initiative inquiry.

The Commission emphasised that its supervisory role is limited to budget implementation and sound financial management of civilian missions only. Thus, it cannot be held accountable outside that limited area.

The Council suggested that it was not competent in this regard and that it was for the High Representative to deal with such matters.

The High Representative submitted that the CSDP missions themselves could not be held accountable for several reasons, including, inter alia, the fact that they do not have legal personality. She added that the High Representative herself cannot be held legally responsible since, unlike an EU Delegation, the missions are not under her authority. However, the High Representative acknowledged that it is for her to take cognisance of the individual complaints lodged with the Ombudsman, to request that the relevant departments of the institutions deal with them, and to provide the Ombudsman with the relevant responses.

As a starting point, the Ombudsman noted with regret that the replies from the institutions have been insufficient to eliminate the above-mentioned uncertainties. The proposition that no EU institution should be held accountable for maladministration cannot be accepted.

However, the Ombudsman welcomed the pragmatic and useful offer made by the High Representative with a view to finding a solution to this problem.

The Ombudsman concluded that he will therefore address himself, as regards future inquiries, (i) to the Commission insofar as issues relating to budget implementation in civilian missions are concerned and (ii) to the High Representative/EEAS insofar as all other allegations of maladministration in relation to CSDP missions are concerned.

There seemed to be no reason to doubt that the above arrangements would ensure the effectiveness of the fundamental right to complain to the Ombudsman contained in Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. There was therefore no need to prolong the present inquiry. It was by no means obvious, however, that these arrangements would prove sufficient to ensure the fundamental right to good administration contained in Article 41 of the Charter. If it were to become apparent that the said arrangements do not work in a satisfactory manner as regards either right, the Ombudsman would feel obliged to take up the issue of principle again.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing his inquiry into complaint 1519/2011/AN against the Council of the European Union

Monday | 06 May 2013

The complainant used to work for the EU military mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina 'EUFOR Althea'. The said mission served him with a notice of termination of his employment contract, and allowed the notice period to run, while he was on sick leave.

The Ombudsman's inquiry showed that, by acting in such a manner, EUFOR Althea breached the complainant's rights of defence. Moreover, since he was on unpaid sick leave when the notice period began to run, he was deprived of part of the income which, in accordance with EUFOR's staff rules, he was entitled to before dismissal. The Ombudsman made a friendly solution proposal to the Council of the European Union, suggesting that EUFOR Althea consider paying the relevant amount to the complainant.

In its reply to the Ombudsman's friendly solution proposal, the Council stated that it was not competent to deal with the present case and that the proposal should be addressed to the Operation Commander directly. Out of courtesy and with the aim of assisting the Ombudsman in his inquiry, the Council forwarded the Ombudsman's friendly solution proposal to the Operation Commander for reply.

The Operation Commander agreed with the Ombudsman that EUFOR breached the complainant's rights of defence when handling his case. It therefore accepted the Ombudsman's friendly solution proposal.

The Ombudsman welcomed the Operation Commander's acceptance of his friendly solution proposal, which settled the complaint. He thanked the Council for acting as a bridge between the Ombudsman and the Operation Commander and took note of its suggestion to address the Operation Commander directly, which the Ombudsman will follow in future cases concerning military missions. Finally, the Ombudsman recalled that the general issue of who is responsible for instances of maladministration in the activities of missions created in third countries under the auspices of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy forms the subject matter of an ongoing own-initiative inquiry.