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Showing 1 - 20 of 63 results

Decision in case 1641/2015/ZA on the European Personnel Selection Office’s refusal to allow the complainant to apply under two concurrent competitions for recruiting translators and failure to explain the reasons for applying this practice

Tuesday | 17 July 2018

The case concerned the European Personnel Selection Office’s (`EPSO`) practice of not permitting candidates to apply for more than one concurrent recruitment competition for EU civil servants even where they fulfilled the criteria. EPSO refused to allow the complainant to apply under two concurrent competitions for recruiting translators for the EU institutions, and failed to convincingly explain the reasons for applying this practice.

The Ombudsman found that this practice could have the consequence of hindering the recruitment of the most qualified persons and that, accordingly, EPSO should be able to provide convincing reasoning as to why it has this practice. The Ombudsman found that EPSO´s failure to provide such reasoning to the complainant constituted maladministration. She found also that any continuation of the practice, in the absence of solid reasoning, would necessarily also constitute maladministration. The Ombudsman therefore recommended to EPSO that it immediately review its policy in relation to this practice.

In response, EPSO set up an internal reflection group to conduct a detailed impact assessment of any policy change in this area. The assessment will be presented to EPSO's Management Board by December 2018. The Board must take the final decision. As EPSO is acting on her recommendation, the Ombudsman has decided to close the case.

Decision in case 515/2016/JAP on the European Asylum Support Office’s probationary assessment of a temporary agent

Friday | 28 April 2017

The case concerned the assessment of the probationary period of a temporary agent at the European Asylum Support Office (‘EASO’). The complainant, who was dismissed at the end of her probationary period, argued that there were a number of procedural shortcomings in her assessment. Moreover, the EASO failed to reply to her complaints made under the EU Staff Regulations.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and requested the EASO to reply to the complaints. She found that the EASO had taken the necessary steps to ensure an impartial assessment of the complainant’s probationary period and had respected the complainant’s right to be heard before taking the final decision on her further employment. The Ombudsman thus closed the case.

Decision in case 2033/2015/ZA on the European Personnel Selection Office’s (EPSO) handling of a request for review of a language proficiency exam

Wednesday | 14 December 2016

EU officials are required to demonstrate the ability to work in a third language before their first promotion. When the complainant, who works in an EU Agency, failed a language proficiency exam in his third language, he asked EPSO to give him reasons for the relatively low grade in the writing test of the exam and also inform him of possible review mechanisms. In his view, EPSO’s explanations concerning his grade seemed inconsistent, while its initial reply about review possibilities was incorrect. Following the complainant’s insistence, EPSO agreed to reassess his writing test. The second evaluator confirmed the initial grade.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue. She examined the complainant’s test, as well as the assessments of the two evaluators. The Ombudsman did not find any manifest error or indications of partiality in the assessment of the complainant’s writing test. Concerning the erroneous information about the review possibilities, EPSO recognised its mistake and apologised to the complainant. The Ombudsman did not consider that further inquiries were necessary and closed the case. However, she made a suggestion for improvement concerning the information given to participants in language proficiency tests about the procedure and their review/appeal rights.

Decision in case 629/2015/ANA concerning the decision of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) not to establish a temporary agent at the end of the probationary period

Monday | 11 July 2016

The case concerned the decision of the ECDC to terminate the contract of a temporary agent at the end of a probationary period.

The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry into the matter and took the view that, in general terms, the explanations given by the ECDC about its decision not to retain the complainant in employment at the end of the probationary period were reasonable.

However, the Ombudsman considered that the ECDC had failed to make clear to the complainant, in good time, (a) that the problems identified in the Newcomers' Evaluation Dialogue were so serious as to warrant the termination of the complainant's contract, (b) the areas in which he needed to improve, through a specific and clear Action Plan. The failure to do so constituted maladministration. Moreover, the Ombudsman considers that, in circumstances in which an EU body does not have enough time to evaluate properly the work of a temporary agent, or where the temporary agent has not had an adequate opportunity to correct deficiencies in his or her performance, it would be good administration to examine if "exceptional circumstances" justifying the extension of the probationary period exist. As there is no evidence in the file that the ECDC seriously examined the option of extending the complainant's probation period, the Ombudsman made a corresponding suggestion for improvement for the future. Finally, given that it is good administration to apologise for any bad practice, the Ombudsman believes that the ECDC should acknowledge its mistakes in dealing with this case and apologise to the complainant for these mistakes.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2041/2014/DK against the European Commission regarding transfer of pension rights

Wednesday | 25 May 2016

The case concerned the Commission's decision to change its original proposal on the transfer in of the complainant's pension rights, acquired in the UK pension scheme, into the EU pension scheme.

The Commission argued that it was required to change its original proposal as it had been based on General Implementing Provisions which were already out of date at the time its proposal was made. The Commission's revised proposal, which was less favourable to the complainant, was based on the revised General Implementing Provisions actually in place at the date of the original proposal. The complainant argued that the Commission should honour its first proposal that he had already accepted.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the General Court had ruled that the Commission was not legally required to make proposals on the transfer in of pension rights acquired outside of the EU pension scheme and that, in fact, an actual determination of the worth of such transferred pension rights could be given only after the transfer had been made. In fact, this was a practice established by the Commission simply to better inform its officials about what they could expect once they actually decided to request the transfer in of their pension rights into the EU pension scheme.

The Ombudsman therefore closed the complaint with a conclusion that there was no maladministration by the Commission.

Decision in case 45/2015/PMC concerning the European Anti-Fraud Office's (OLAF) actions following the receipt of a whistleblowing report

Tuesday | 11 August 2015

The case concerned OLAF's actions following the receipt of a whistleblowing report linking the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) to the alleged manipulation of an aviation security inspection report. Following a preliminary assessment, the Ombudsman was concerned about what appeared to be OLAF's decision to dismiss the case and to refer the matter back to EASA despite the fact that the whistleblower had consciously chosen to make his report to OLAF rather than to EASA. The Ombudsman took the preliminary view that such a decision might impact negatively on the effectiveness of the whistleblowing provisions in general. She therefore decided to inquire into the matter.

Following an inspection of OLAF's files, the Ombudsman found that OLAF had appropriately considered whether to open an investigation. It also emerged that OLAF had not in fact closed the case but had asked EASA to examine the matter and to report back on the results of its investigation. Furthermore, OLAF had reserved the right to open a formal inquiry at a later stage. Against this background, the Ombudsman found that OLAF had dealt appropriately with the complainant's whistleblowing report. The Ombudsman noted that OLAF should have informed the complainant more explicitly that its referral of the matter to EASA did not mean that OLAF would not be taking any further action on the matter. She made a further remark in this regard.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiries into complaints 26/2011/DK and 1307/2012/DK against the European External Action Service

Thursday | 04 June 2015

The case concerned the complainant's dismissal as a member of staff in a European Union Police Mission, and his subsequent request to have access to the documents contained in his personal file.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the complainant's dismissal was legal. However, she also found that the Mission should have waited for the completion of the internal review process, which actually dealt with the complainant's situation, before dismissing the complainant. The Ombudsman therefore considered it appropriate to ask the European External Action Service (EEAS), in a proposal for a solution, to offer the complainant an ex gratia payment in recognition of the errors made by the Mission. The EEAS accepted the proposal and offered to make an ex gratia payment of EUR 2000.The complainant did not accept the offer. The Ombudsman considered that the amount offered by the EEAS was appropriate and that there were therefore no grounds for further inquiries into this aspect of the case.

As regards the complainant's access to his personal file, the Ombudsman found that there had not been any maladministration on the part of the EEAS.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing her own-initiative inquiry OI/1/2014/PMC concerning whistleblowing

Thursday | 26 February 2015

Since 1 January 2014, EU institutions have been obliged to introduce internal whistleblowing rules covering the protection of whistleblowers, the provision of information to them, and the procedure for handling complaints made by whistleblowers concerning the way they were treated. To ensure that the EU administration is doing all in its power to encourage individuals who become aware of serious misconduct or wrongdoing to speak up, the Ombudsman opened an own-initiative inquiry addressed to the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors, the European External Action Service, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The Ombudsman is disappointed to learn from her inquiries that, so far, only two of the nine institutions in question have adopted rules of the kind required. The institutions' responses show that much more needs to be done to demonstrate to the public and to potential whistleblowers that the EU institutions welcome whistleblowing and encourage whistleblowers to step forward, that whistleblowers will be protected against negative action by the institution for which they work, and that their reporting will lead to a proper investigation. The Ombudsman therefore closes the case with guidelines for further improvement, encouraging the institutions to seek to finalise their discussions at inter-institutional level as soon as possible and, in this process, to draw on the example of the Ombudsman's own internal rules on whistleblowing. The Ombudsman also commends the Commission and the Court of Auditors for their progress thus far on this issue.