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Showing 1 - 20 of 169 results

Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 2168/2019/KR on how the European Banking Authority handled the move of its former Executive Director to become CEO of a financial industry lobby

Thursday | 07 May 2020

The Ombudsman received a complaint about the decision of the European Banking Authority (EBA) to allow its Executive Director to take up a position as CEO of an association representing banks, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME).

The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry, inspected the relevant EBA documents and found maladministration, first, in that the EBA should have forbidden the job move. While the EBA adopted extensive restrictions, these are not sufficient when measured against the risks involved. The Ombudsman considers that if this move does not justify the application of the option, set out in the Staff Regulations, to forbid a staff member accepting a job offer, no move would.

Second, there was maladministration in that the EBA did not, once notified of the planned move, immediately withdraw its Executive Director’s access to confidential information.

The Ombudsman issues three recommendations to the EBA, which should (i) where necessary in future, invoke the option of forbidding its senior staff from taking up certain positions after their term-of-office. Any such prohibition should be time-limited, for example, for two years; (ii) set out criteria for when it will forbid such moves in future so as to give clarity to senior staff. Applicants for senior EBA posts should be informed of the criteria when they apply; and (iii) put in place internal procedures so that once it is known that a member of its staff is moving to another job, their access to confidential information is cut off with immediate effect.

The EBA should reply to these recommendations within three months.



Decision in case 560/2019/KR on alleged conflicts of interest of experts who participate in the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism

Monday | 30 March 2020

The case concerned whether the European Commission has in place processes to ensure that scientific experts who advise it have no conflicts of interest.

The complainant, a civil society organisation, had raised concerns about the independence of scientific experts that contributed to an advisory report on plant protection products (commonly known as pesticides).

The Ombudsman found that the Commission has systems in place to assess the independence of experts. However, with a view to improving these systems, she asked the Commission to ensure that all relevant financial interests are included in experts’ declarations of interests, and that these declarations are assessed and published. She closed the case with these two suggestions for improvement.

Decision in case 1481/2019/MH on how the European Commission dealt with an infringement complaint against the Netherlands concerning the importation of potentially unsafe lighters

Friday | 06 March 2020

The case concerned the time taken by the European Commission to deal with a complaint from a manufacturer of lighters alleging that the Netherlands was infringing EU law. The complainant was particularly concerned that the Commission had not taken the next formal step in the procedure since July 2014, when it had asked the Netherlands for further information about the case.

The Ombudsman acknowledges that more than nine years to conduct an investigation into an infringement complaint is a very long time. However, based on the Commission’s extensive information gathering and its analysis, and the extent of its engagement with the Dutch authorities and the complainant, the Ombudsman has not found undue delay in the Commission’s handling of this case. Over the nine-year period, the Commission had approximately six rounds of information gathering with the Netherlands, while the complainant submitted reports and studies on more than 18 occasions. The complainant also met with the Commission at least 13 times.

As the Commission has now sent a letter to the complainant informing it of its intention to close the case, the Ombudsman considers that no further inquiries are justified.

Decision in case 1560/2019/SRS on the European Commission’s decision to ban the sale of food containing residues of buprofezin

Thursday | 13 February 2020

The case concerned the timing of the entry into force of a ban on the sale of food containing residues of a pesticide. The complainant, who represents importers of basmati rice, wanted to delay the entry into force of the ban to allow enough time to dispose of stocks of rice produced using the pesticide.

The Commission has wide discretion when deciding upon the measures necessary to protect public health. It explained why it was necessary to introduce the ban. It also gave stakeholders adequate advance notice of the entry into force of the ban. Thus, the Ombudsman found no maladministration.