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Administration and Staff Regulations

Showing 1 - 20 of 557 results

Decision in case 559/2016/MDC on the European Investment Bank’s refusal to initiate the conciliation procedure with regard to the complainant

Tuesday | 31 October 2017

The case concerned a former employee’s alleged unfair dismissal from and harassment at the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The Ombudsman’s inquiry focused on the issue that the EIB had allegedly wrongly denied the complainant the benefit of what is known as the ‘conciliation procedure’ provided for under Article 41 of the EIB’s Staff Regulations (which lays down that staff members may bring proceedings before the Court of Justice of the EU when a dispute arises with the EIB and that, prior to doing so, they should seek an amicable settlement, through the conciliation procedure). The Ombudsman made the preliminary finding that, by considering that the conciliation procedure could not be applied to a former member of staff who was not in receipt of an EIB pension, the EIB had committed maladministration. The Ombudsman therefore proposed that the EIB initiate the conciliation procedure without delay, as regards both the dismissal and the harassment issues. The Bank agreed to initiate the conciliation procedure as regards the dismissal issue, and referred the complainant to another procedure concerning the issue of harassment.

The Ombudsman concluded that, following her intervention, a solution had been found. She therefore closed 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 of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 52/2014/EIS concerning the decision of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) to have due regard to the force majeure principle in open competitions

Thursday | 17 November 2016

The complainant, who works for the Court of Justice of the European Union on a temporary contract, applied for an EPSO competition to recruit conference interpreters. The Notice of Competition stated that completed applications had to be submitted by 6 August 2013 at noon. The complainant missed the deadline. On 7 August 2013, she informed EPSO that she had been hospitalised from 5 to 6 August 2013 and therefore had not been able to complete her application on time. On 7 August 2013, she requested EPSO to extend the deadline. EPSO refused. Its main reason for refusing was, it stated, that it must treat all applicants equally.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and made the preliminary finding that EPSO had failed to consider whether the complainant’s circumstances amounted to a situation of force majeure. She thus recommended that EPSO (i) acknowledge that there are situations where, because of force majeure, it is fair and proper that candidates should be given a new deadline; (ii) clarify the circumstances in which such a new deadline should be set; and (iii) inform candidates accordingly. EPSO initially rejected the Ombudsman's recommendations and argued that it would be difficult to draw a line between different justifications put forward by candidates and to set out how candidates would prove that force majeure had occurred. It added that allowing candidates to invoke force majeure would jeopardise both the smooth running of open competitions and the equal treatment of candidates. It also referred to statistics which, it argued, proved that dealing with all the requests for deadline extensions after the deadline has expired would be an administrative burden for EPSO.

However, following meetings between Ombudsman and EPSO staff, EPSO finally accepted the recommendations of the Ombudsman in principle. As regards the specific case of the complainant, however, the Ombudsman noted that the competition in question had ended. She also noted that the complainant had chosen not to comment on the response of EPSO to her recommendations. In view of this, the Ombudsman considered that there were no grounds for further inquiries into whether the complainant’s case met the requirements of force majeure that EPSO now, in principle, agrees to apply.

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.

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 in case 1408/2015/OV on the European Commission's compliance with its Rules on Special Advisers

Thursday | 26 May 2016

The issue in this complaint is the alleged failure of the European Commission, in appointing a Special Adviser, to abide by its own rules on preventing conflicts of interest.

In September 2015, two NGOs complained to the Ombudsman that the Commission had failed to comply with its Rules when it appointed a Special Adviser to assist the Commission President. The Commission issued a press release on 18 December 2014 announcing the appointment of Mr Edmund Stoiber as a Special Adviser to the Commission President. This announcement was made three months before Mr Stoiber was officially appointed on 4 March 2015, without any disclaimer about the pending administrative requirements still to be fulfilled. The complainants argued that this premature announcement compromised the Commission's capacity to conduct an unbiased and critical assessment of whether the person in question had any conflicts of interest. They complained also that the Commission's "statement of assurance", an essential part of the appointment process, failed to mention the positions the Special Adviser held with Nürnberger, a large insurance group.  

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission's press release was incorrect and misleading. The Ombudsman also found that the premature announcement of the appointment, without any disclaimer, raised legitimate doubts for the interested public as to whether an unbiased and critical examination of the conflict of interest question had been carried out following the announcement. The Ombudsman found maladministration by the Commission on both counts. The Ombudsman also found that the Commission had failed to explain why the positions of the appointed Special Adviser in the insurance group were omitted from the "statement of assurance". She found that this also amounted to maladministration.

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 1023/2014/OV on the European Commission's handling of the 2013 promotion exercise concerning AST officials

Monday | 15 February 2016

The complainant is a Commission official (AST) who was not promoted to the next grade in the course of the 2013 promotion exercise and complained about this to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman informed the complainant that there were no grounds for an inquiry. The complainant however also alleged that eight officials of the same grade as his, who had not been flagged for promotion purposes (on the basis of promotion points accumulated under the previous rules), had been promoted. The Ombudsman therefore opened an inquiry into the allegation that the Commission had failed to explain why eight officials who were not flagged were promoted to the next AST grade.

In its opinion, the Commission explained that the eight officials concerned had comparatively higher merits than the complainant with regard to the three criteria for assessment set out in the General Implementing Provisions and that the flagging only played a subsidiary role. The Ombudsman found that the applicable transitional provisions did not prevent non-flagged officials from being promoted. The Ombudsman therefore found no maladministration by the Commission and closed the case.

Decision in case 1306/2014/OV

Monday | 11 January 2016

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 362/2011/KM against the European Commission

Tuesday | 22 December 2015

The case concerned a request to the Commission, from one of its former officials, for detailed information relating to possible disciplinary proceedings against another former Commission official.

The Commission replied that it could not divulge the requested information. It also sought to reassure the complainant that it was dealing with the matter of the former official by taking all necessary measures.

The Ombudsman's inquiry into the issue included inspections of the Commission's files relating to the former official. The Ombudsman found that, while the institutions are required to maintain a high level of transparency, in the present case, the Commission was entitled to take the view it could not reveal details of its actions relating to the former official without harming the fair conduct of proceedings in general as well as the privacy of the official concerned.

The case was thus closed with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 1958/2014/ANA against the European Commission concerning the transfer of national pension rights into the EU pension scheme

Wednesday | 02 December 2015

The case concerned the transfer of national pension rights into the EU pension scheme by a Commission official.

Following the Ombudsman's intervention, the Commission re-examined the file, identified the mistake and undertook to recalculate the number of pensionable years the complainant is entitled to.

The Ombudsman concluded that the case has been settled to the complainant's satisfaction and closed the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing her inquiry into complaint 63/2013/LP against [an EU Agency] concerning allegations of harassment

Tuesday | 24 November 2015

The case concerned the investigation of an alleged case of psychological harassment in [an EU Agency][1] and whether the complainant, as the alleged victim, was entitled to the full version of the confidential administrative investigation report. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the conclusion reached by [the Agency] that no such harassment could be established was reasonable. Moreover the Ombudsman found that the allegation that one of the members of the investigation panel had an actual or potential conflict of interest could not be established. The Ombudsman did however consider that disclosing to the complainant the parts of the investigation report that were treated at the time as confidential would not undermine the privacy of the persons heard and/or the working relationships and the smooth running of [the Agency's] services. The Ombudsman trusts that [the Agency] will disclose those parts to the complainant.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1770/2013/JF against the European Economic and Social Committee

Wednesday | 18 November 2015

The case concerned the reassignment of an official of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) from his post of Head of Unit to that of an administrator. After the official complained, the Ombudsman investigated the matter and concluded that the reassignment was a covert disciplinary sanction following the official's reaction to a 'Merry Christmas' e-mail from the President of one of the EESC political groups. Because no disciplinary proceedings had taken place, the reassignment was a misuse of power. Since the official had had no opportunity to defend himself, this action was also contrary to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Ombudsman, therefore, found maladministration on the part of the EESC and put forward a number of proposals for a solution to the complaint.

The EESC agreed to reintegrate the official in a post similar to his former post once, and if, he becomes fit for work (the official had meanwhile been recognised as suffering from invalidity). It also agreed to compensate him for the management allowance that he had lost because of his reassignment. The Ombudsman welcomed this. However, the EESC refused to accept that its decision to reassign the complainant was wrong. It also refused to annul the reassignment decision and to apologise to the complainant. The Ombudsman did not find EESC's explanations to be convincing and therefore made a critical remark as regards this aspect of the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2114/2011/KM against the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

Monday | 21 September 2015

The complainant is a former EASA employee whose contract was terminated at the end of a six-month probationary period due to what EASA considered to be his poor team-work skills. The complainant argued that this finding was based on his insistence that EASA keep a promise that he could continue to give lectures outside EASA. This resulted in conflicts with his superiors. He also objected to a statement in the probationary period report that he adopted "a megalomaniac approach" at work. Furthermore, he complained that he had been treated unfairly, since EASA had not warned him, during the probationary period, about his performance.

Following her preliminary inquiries, the Ombudsman proposed to EASA that it apologise for using the term "megalomaniac"; and questioned EASA's use of the terms "stubborn and unaccommodating" to describe the complainant. Neither was the Ombudsman satisfied that EASA had given the complainant the opportunity to improve his performance during the probationary period.

EASA agreed to remove the term "megalomaniac approach" from the probationary period report and apologised for using it. However, it defended its use of the terms "stubborn and unaccommodating" and it insisted that the complainant was aware, during his probationary period, that his colleagues and superiors were unhappy with his performance. It also maintained that it had acted correctly as regards the complainant's insistence that he be allowed to give lectures outside EASA.

The Ombudsman considered that EASA’s reply was on the whole reasonable. However, she did not find convincing EASA’s argument that it had acted correctly as regards the complainant's insistence that he should be allowed to teach outside EASA. She therefore closed the case with a critical remark as regards this issue.