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Showing 1 - 20 of 796 results

Decision in case 21/2016/JAP on the Council of the EU’s failure to grant access to legal opinions on proposals for Regulations on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (EUROJUST)

Thursday | 07 March 2019

The case concerned the refusal of the Council of the European Union to grant full access to legal opinions on the legislative proposals for Regulations on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (EUROJUST).

In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the Council agreed to disclose two of the four documents, but maintained its refusal to disclose fully the two remaining documents, although partial access was granted.

The Ombudsman accepts that the refusal to disclose the legal opinions fully was justified on the grounds that it would undermine the protection of legal advice and court proceedings. She therefore closes the case with a finding of no maladministration, but invites the Council to review its refusal in light of the further passage of time.

Decision in case 66/2016/DK on the European Research Council Executive Agency’s action concerning a request for access to documents

Thursday | 21 December 2017

The case concerned the complainant’s request for access to two e-mails sent from the private e-mail account of the President of the Governing Board of the European Research Council Executive Agency to the members of the Scientific Council of the Agency. When the Agency refused access on the basis that the two e-mails were not in its possession as they were sent from a private account, the complainant turned to the European Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the issue, after which the President of the Governing Board provided the Agency with copies of the two e-mails. Thus, the Agency could assess the complainant’s request for access to the e-mails under Regulation 1049/2001[1]. The Agency then granted the complainant partial access to the documents. The Ombudsman obtained full copies of the two e-mails and was able to verify that the redactions made in the copies disclosed to the complainant were justified.

The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 709/2015/MDC on the Commission's refusal to grant public access to drafts of the final Impact Assessment Report accompanying its proposal for a Directive amending the Fuel Quality and Renewable Energy Directives

Wednesday | 04 October 2017

The case concerned the Commission’s refusal to grant public access to draft versions of an Impact Assessment Report (IAR) on indirect land-use change related to biofuels (ILUC). Disclosure of the documents was refused on the ground that it would undermine the Commission’s decision-making process. The complainant, a group of organisations, considered that it should be granted access to the documents it requested.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue. She noted that in September 2015, Parliament and Council adopted Directive 2015/1513. That Directive was based on the Commission’s legislative proposal to which the impact assessment report, the draft versions of which were at issue in this case, was attached. The Ombudsman therefore proposed that, in light of these new circumstances, the Commission grant public access to the requested documents. The Commission disagreed, arguing that there had been no maladministration on its part. It however invited the complainant to make a new request for access to documents, in light of the new circumstances. The complainant later informed the Ombudsman that, following a new request for access to documents, the Commission granted access to the documents it had requested. The Ombudsman thus closed the case with a finding that no further inquiries into the complaint were justified. She also pointed out that the Ombudsman is entitled to ask an institution to take into consideration, when responding to a proposal for a solution of the Ombudsman in an access to documents case, new arguments as to why a document should be released.

Decision in case 1959/2014/MDC on the European Commission’s refusal to grant public access to the award evaluation forms concerning applications for co-funding of mechanisms for the processing of passenger name records

Thursday | 13 July 2017

The case concerned the European Commission's refusal to grant public access to evaluation forms drawn up to assess Member States’ applications for Commission co-funding of national passenger name record data (PNR[1]) processing systems. The complaint was lodged by a Member of the European Parliament.

When denying access to the requested evaluation forms, the Commission relied on a judgment of the General Court which recognised the need to maintain the confidentiality of evaluation committees' proceedings in relation to tender procedures. In that case, the Court ruled that disclosure of the opinions of the evaluation committee members would compromise their independence, and thus seriously undermine the decision-making process of the institution concerned. The complainant considered, however, that this judgment was inapplicable to an evaluation procedure concerning the assessment of applications for funding submitted by Member States.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission's refusal to disclose the requested documents was not justified. Moreover, she agreed that there was an overriding public interest in the disclosure of the requested documents. The Ombudsman therefore made a recommendation to the Commission to release the requested documents (she agreed however that the names of the evaluators could be redacted).

The Commission refused to accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation without providing convincing reasons for its position. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of maladministration.

Decision in case 1102/2016/JN on the Commission’s failure to reply to correspondence and to fully disclose a document

Friday | 13 January 2017

The case concerned the Commission’s failure to reply to the complainant’s correspondence in the context of a financial audit at the Member State level. Following the Ombudsman’s intervention, the Commission replied. It disclosed the document requested by the complainant but redacted some personal data (names of physical persons). The Ombudsman found that the Commission correctly justified the redaction under Regulation 45/2001.

Decision in case 739/2016/JAP concerning the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s refusal to grant access to a downloadable version of its case law database

Wednesday | 11 January 2017

The case concerned the handling of a request for information as how to obtain a downloadable version of a case law database held by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (‘EUIPO’). The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and asked EUIPO to better explain its reasons why it could not comply with the request. The EUIPO’s explanation was accurate and reasonable. Thus, the case was closed with the finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 393/2015/MDC on the European Commission’s refusal to grant full public access to evaluation documents concerning a public procurement process

Monday | 19 December 2016

The complaint, submitted by the NGO Access Info Europe, concerns the European Commission's allegedly wrongful refusal to grant full public access to evaluation documents concerning a public procurement process for the 'Rehabilitation and extension of the waste water treatment plant of Subotica' (Serbia). The disclosure of the documents was refused on the basis of Article 4(1)(b) (the protection of personal data), Article 4(2) (the protection of commercial interests) and Article 4(3) (the protection of the decision-making process) of Regulation 1049/2001. The complainant considered that it should be granted full access to the evaluation documents.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that there was no maladministration in the Commission's conduct.  However, she suggests that the Commission should systematically obtain, prior to their appointment, the consent of evaluation committee members in procurement processes to the disclosure of their names. Disclosure of their names at the conclusion of the evaluation process should be considered a condition of appointment to such a committee.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1206/2014/PD concerning the European Commission’s refusal to disclose the names of officials in a State aid case

Monday | 19 December 2016

The case concerned a refusal by the Commission to disclose the names of staff who had worked on a Commission State aid investigation. In the course of the inquiry the Ombudsman obtained the views of the Commission, the complainant and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The question of whether the refusal to disclose the names was right hinged upon Article 8 of Regulation 45/2001 on Data Protection. Under that provision the person asking for disclosure must first show the necessity of disclosing the names to that person. If that test is met, the public authority must still establish whether the legitimate interests of the staff members would be affected by the disclosure of their names and, if so, whether those legitimate interests were more important than the necessity put forward by the person asking for the disclosure of the names.  

While holding that the Commission should not apply Article 8 in a restrictive manner when names of staff are at issue, the Ombudsman found that there was no maladministration on the part of the Commission in refusing to disclose the names of the staff members at issue.

Decision in case 1171/2016/EIS on the Commission’s handling of correspondence concerning alleged illegalities committed by national courts in Estonia

Thursday | 24 November 2016

The case concerned the Commission’s failure to reply to the complainant’s letter concerning alleged illegalities committed by national courts in Estonia. In that letter, the complainant also criticised the Commission for not taking any action. The Commission explained that it has no competence to intervene in the matter. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission’s explanations were correct, helpful and in line with its statutory powers. The case was thus closed as settled.

Decision of the European Ombudsman in case 789/2016/EIS concerning the EEAS’ handling of a request for public access to the “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” between the EU and Cuba

Thursday | 10 November 2016

The case concerned the handling by the European External Action Service (EEAS) of the complainant’s request for public access to the “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” between the EU and Cuba. In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the EEAS released the document. As a result, the Ombudsman closed the case as settled.

Decision in case 726/2016/PMC concerning the Council of the European Union paying trainees an amount less than the minimum wage

Thursday | 29 September 2016

A former trainee at the Council of the European Union complained that the allowance paid by EU institutions to its trainees is inappropriate, as it is below the minimum wage and thus does not guarantee trainees a decent standard of living.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the matter. She found that the Council had explained in a sufficiently detailed way how the amount of the traineeship allowance is determined. The Ombudsman found that the decision to pay an allowance, equivalent to 25% of the salary of an official at the AD5.1 grade, wasreasonable. The Council took this decision acting within the margin of its discretion, based on its administrative needs and the available budget.

The Ombudsman noted that the Council distinguishes between traineeships and employment. Therefore, a trainee receives an allowance and not a salary, because the rights and obligations of a trainee are not comparable to those of a member of staff. The Ombudsman considered the Council’s explanation to be reasonable.

Therefore, she closed the case with the finding that the Council’s practice did not constitute maladministration.