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Showing 1 - 20 of 97 results

Decision in case 193/2020/EWM on the European Commission’s refusal to grant public access to a legal opinion related to an alleged conflict of interest in Czechia

Wednesday | 25 March 2020

The case concerned the Commission’s refusal to grant public access to an opinion of the legal service related to an alleged conflict of interest of the Czech prime minister.

The complainant considered that there was an overriding public interest in disclosure. In his view, citizens need to be aware of the content of the legal opinion, so that they can form their own independent view of the actions of the parties involved and the credibility of the arguments put forward.

The Ombudsman found that, at this stage, the public interest in disclosing the legal opinion is does not override the public interest in protecting the Commission’s ability to conduct audits aimed at ensuring that EU funds are protected and that the rule of law is respected. The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 724/2019/MIG on the European Commission’s refusal to grant full public access to a document relating to audits of potential conflicts of interest in Czechia

Wednesday | 25 March 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to a letter of the European Commission to the Czech authorities concerning audits in relation to potential conflicts of interest in Czechia. The Commission refused to make public the letter arguing that disclosure would put the successful completion of the audits at risk.

The Ombudsman considered that the Commission should give partial access to the letter, thus reassuring and confirming to the public that it was taking appropriate action regarding the protection of EU funds.

The Commission accepted this solution and granted the complainant access to those paragraphs of the letter which the Ombudsman considered could be released. The Ombudsman finds that, by doing so, the Commission resolved the complaint. She therefore closed her inquiry.

Decision in case 1052/2019/MMO on how the European Commission dealt with a complaint concerning the European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Thursday | 23 January 2020

The complainant had contacted the European Commission to raise concerns about what he saw as the failure of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) to comply with health and safety rules. The complainant argued that the Commission had a responsibility to monitor EMBL activities, as the Commission is an ‘observer’ on the council of the EMBL, which also receives EU funding. The Commission, for its part, said that it was not responsible for the activities of the EMBL.

In the context of her inquiry, the Ombudsman asked the Commission to provide a more comprehensive reply to the complainant. The Commission replied that organisations in receipt of EU funds must adhere to ethical principles and all national and international law, including health and safety regulations. The Commission invited the complainant to identify the grant agreement under which the EMBL received funding for the activities at issue and provide more information on the alleged breaches.

The Ombudsman found the Commission’s reply to be reasonable and closed the case.

Decision in case 1409/2019/EWM on the European Parliament’s refusal to deal with requests for public access to documents concerning parliamentary missions to third countries

Thursday | 28 November 2019

The case concerned the refusal by the European Parliament to deal with a request for public access to documents related to missions by Members of the European Parliament to 112 countries and related to 13 specific committee missions.

EU access to documents rules allow EU institutions to refuse requests for very large numbers of documents if dealing with the request would entail an excessive administrative burden. This rule exists to ensure that dealing with access to documents requests does not seriously undermine the ability of institutions to carry out their core tasks. The Ombudsman found that the Parliament’s refusal to deal with the request was justified because the review of large numbers of voluminous documents would constitute an excessive administrative burden.

The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 608/2018/VB on the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency’s (Chafea) handling of a request to amend a framework partnership agreement

Monday | 21 October 2019

The case concerned the decision of the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) to reject a request to amend a framework partnership agreement in the field of health.

The Ombudsman found that Chafea’s decision was reasonable because the complainant was not in a position to produce the necessary documentation proving its partial takeover of rights and obligations from the bankrupt coordinator. Moreover, although the length of time the procedure took was regrettable, the Ombudsman found that the procedure took time mainly because of Chafea’s efforts to find a solution.

The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 798/2018/JAP on the decision by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency to recover funds from a company that worked on a project under the Marco Polo programme

Wednesday | 09 October 2019

The case concerned the decision by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) to partially recover funds granted to a company that carried out a project to promote rail transport under the Marco Polo programme.

An investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) found irregularities with the project, in particular, concerning the costs of train drivers and other subcontracted services. OLAF recommended that INEA recover more than EUR 87 000 from the company.

The complainant challenged OLAF’s findings and provided INEA with additional explanations. However, INEA considered that these explanations did not call OLAF’s findings into question.

Based on her inquiry, the Ombudsman considered INEA’s decision to be reasonable. She therefore closed the case.

Decision in case 847/2018/MMO on the recovery of funds from a non-governmental organisation active in a sustainable development project for agriculture in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Wednesday | 25 September 2019

The case concerned the fairness of the Commission’s claim to recover funds the complainant received as the beneficiary of a grant agreement for sustainable development in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following an audit, the Commission found certain expenses to be ineligible under the grant agreement and asked that they be paid back. Those expenses corresponded to work a third party did for the beneficiary. The Commission and the complainant disagreed as to the eligibility of the amount in question and the meaning of several provisions contained in the grant agreement.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission was correct in seeking to recover the amount in question, as neither the beneficiary nor one of its partners under the grant agreement had paid it. Thus, it did not constitute an eligible expense. She also found that the Commission had provided sufficient explanations to the beneficiary on its position and on the interpretation of the relevant rules.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.