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Showing 1 - 20 of 51 results

Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 552/2018/MIG on the European Commission’s refusal of public access to documents concerning the German Network Enforcement Act

Tuesday | 11 June 2019

The case concerned a refusal by the Commission, in 2017, to give a Member of the European Parliament public access to Commission documents regarding a new German social media law. The complainant considered that the Commission had failed to identify all the documents falling within the scope of her request. Regarding those documents it did identify, she considered that the Commission had wrongly redacted the documents.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission had failed to identify all the documents falling within the scope of the complainant’s request. She also found that the redactions made by the Commission were excessive. She thus proposed that the Commission reassess the scope of the request and reconsider its decision to (partially) deny access to the identified documents.

The Commission did not follow this solution proposal. As the Ombudsman considers the Commission’s handling of the complainant’s access request to constitute maladministration, she makes a corresponding recommendation and expresses her concern at the inordinate length of time the Commission has taken in dealing with this matter.

Decision in case 2124/2017/KT on the treatment of certain journalists by the European Parliament’s Information Office in Cyprus

Thursday | 25 April 2019

The complaint was about how the European Parliament’s Information Office in Cyprus selected journalists to travel to a conference in Brussels organised by Parliament. The complainant considered that the Information Office´s outreach policy is not transparent, especially when it comes to selecting journalists to travel abroad to cover its activities.

The Ombudsman found that Parliament’s criteria for selecting journalists were reasonable and concluded that there was no maladministration.

Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 1731/2018/FP on the refusal by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency to grant public access to the documents submitted by a public undertaking for a funding approval in the context of a call for proposals by the Connecting Europe Facility

Monday | 01 April 2019

The case concerned the refusal by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) to grant public access to the documents submitted by a public undertaking for a funding approval in the context of a call for proposals by the Connecting Europe Facility.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and proposed that INEA should partially disclose the requested documents, redacting only information that it considers to be genuinely commercially sensitive or personal data requiring protection. However, INEA rejected the Ombudsman’s proposal, arguing that most of the information which was proposed for disclosure was already in the public domain and the proposed partial disclosure would impose a disproportionate administrative burden on INEA. It also said that it accepted the arguments of the relevant third party, the national cybersecurity authority of a Member State, regarding the likely damage to commercial interests which would result from disclosure.

The Ombudsman found INEA’s refusal to grant even partial public access to the requested documents to constitute maladministration. The Ombudsman therefore recommends that INEA should partially disclose the requested Grant application forms A and D submitted by the public undertaking in the context of a call for proposals by the Connecting Europe Facility’s, redacting only information that it considers to be genuinely commercially sensitive (which the Ombudsman considers to be very limited) or personal data requiring protection (such as the CVs and personal details of the individuals to be employed on the project).

Decision in case 917/2017/TM concerning the European Commission’s decision to recover funds from a business that carried out projects under the Safer Internet Programme

Wednesday | 06 March 2019

The complainant is a small business that carried out two EU-funded projects under the Safer Internet and the Safer Internet Plus Programmes. An external audit, requested by the European Commission, found problems with the method for calculating working time that the complainant had used. As a result, the Commission sought to recover approximately EUR 43 200 from the complainant.

The Ombudsman found that the applicable rules did not provide for a specific method to calculate working time. In addition, the auditors ultimately recognised that the working time the complainant claimed was consistent with the time worked. The Ombudsman therefore proposed that the Commission reconsider its position and either withdraw its recovery claim or reduce substantially the amount of funds it was seeking to recover.

In reply to the proposal, the Commission said that the method used by the complainant to calculate working time would generate a profit for the complainant. It was thus necessary to recalculate the eligible personnel costs.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission had convincingly explained why it decided to recover funds in this case. The Ombudsman therefore found no maladministration as regards the Commission’s decision and closed the case.

Closing note on the Strategic Initiative with the European Commission on the negotiations on the UK withdrawal from the EU (SI/1/2017/KR)

Monday | 11 February 2019

The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union has serious and wide-ranging implications for millions of EU citizens and businesses. They should, to the appropriate extent, be kept informed about developments in the withdrawal process, as well as the subsequent process for deciding upon the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

The European Commission has been mandated by the European Council to represent the EU in the negotiations leading to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Weeks before the UK invoked Article 50 to begin the process, the Ombudsman suggested practical ways to President Juncker to ensure appropriate transparency throughout the negotiations, and to secure the necessary input from citizens and others. The Ombudsman also wrote to the Secretary General of the Council of the EU.

The level of transparency achieved thus far has been very high, when compared to for example international negotiations that the EU has conducted in the past.

This transparency has served to enhance the legitimacy of the Commission and the EU in these negotiations. It has also helped keep the EU united as all key stakeholders were informed at every step. As the Ombudsman said in her letter of March 2017, the EU side could only benefit from transparency, as the reality of the negotiations sets in on the UK side.

The Ombudsman also notes the early call of the European Parliament for “full transparency”[1] in the negotiations.

The Ombudsman now encourages the European Council and European Commission to continue to ensure that the future relationship negotiations are as transparent and participative as possible.