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Showing 1 - 20 of 37 results

Decision in case 1861/2018/KR on the European Commission’s refusal to disclose documents pertaining to interactions between financial organisations and the Brexit Taskforce

Wednesday | 17 April 2019

The case concerned the refusal of the European Commission to grant the complainant public access to documents drawn up in the context of the on-going negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (“Brexit”). The documents relate to meetings of the Commission’s Brexit Taskforce with economic actors from the financial sector.

Having reviewed the documents, the Ombudsman is of the view that the Commission was justified in refusing access based on the exceptions invoked, as provided in EU rules on public access to documents.

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

Decision in case 1579/2018/KR on a request to review Commission Decisions authorising the import of three types of genetically modified soybeans

Monday | 25 March 2019

This complaint concerns the European Commission’s decisions to authorise the importation of products containing, consisting of or produced from three genetically modified soybeans.

The complainant was of the view that the Commission wrongly authorised the importation. The arguments it presented to the Ombudsman were scientific in nature.

Given the Ombudsman’s limited role in reviewing decisions involving complex scientific assessments, she asked the complainant to point out any manifest errors in the Commission’s assessment. The complainant did not put forward evidence of a manifest error by the Commission. The Ombudsman also noted that the Commission had consulted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the matter and that it drew on the conclusions reached in EFSA’s report in replying in substance to the complainant. On that basis, the Ombudsman found no maladministration.

The Ombudsman, however, takes note of the complainant’s concerns about what it sees as inadequate post-market monitoring proposals of the genetically modified products at issue in this case. While the Ombudsman cannot assess whether they are adequate or not, she agrees with the complainant about the importance of post-market monitoring and urges the Commission, in cooperation with EFSA, to continue to monitor carefully the effects of these products.

Decision in case 212/2016/JN on the European Commission’s annual reviewing of Member States’ export credit agencies

Monday | 03 December 2018

The case concerned the adequacy of the European Commission’s annual reviewing of export credit agencies — national bodies that give financial support to companies doing business in risky markets — in particular with respect to the protection of human rights and the environment.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and found that the Commission’s methodology and procedures could be improved. In particular, the Ombudsman recommended that the Commission should engage in a dialogue with Member States and other stakeholders with a view to improving the template used by Member States to compile the reports on export credit agencies which they are required to submit to the Commission each year. The Ombudsman also recommended that the Commission, for its part, should enhance the analysis and evaluation content of the annual reviews of export credit agencies which it submits to the European Parliament.

The Commission informed the Ombudsman that it would consult the Council, Parliament and the European External Action Service, and engage with civil society, in order to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations. In particular, the Commission will propose to the Council Working Group on Export Credits a revised checklist template to be used by Member States for their annual reports. The Commission will also consider drawing up relevant guidance for Member States’ reporting.

As the measures announced by the Commission adequately address the Ombudsman’s recommendations, the Ombudsman closed her inquiry but asked the Commission to report back within one year.

Decision in case 1413/2018/KR concerning the refusal by the European Commission to disclose a “mapping exercise” drawn up in the context of the Brexit negotiations

Friday | 09 November 2018

The case concerned the refusal of the European Commission to grant the complainant public access to a document drawn up in the context of the on-going Brexit negotiations. The document relates to a “mapping exercise” that seeks to identify the EU legal and policy framework relevant for North-South cooperation on the island of Ireland.

Having reviewed the document, its purpose and context, the Ombudsman is of the view that it should clearly be made public. However, she has decided that, at this specific time in the EU/UK negotiations, the document is subject to a valid exception under the EU Regulation on public access to documents. This is despite the lack of inherent confidentiality of the content and the high level of public interest in the negotiations.  

The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration, but strongly urges the Commission to publish the document as soon as the relevant negotiations have been concluded. When the elected representatives of EU and UK citizens vote on the outcome of these negotiations, this document is essential to the making of informed decisions in the public interest.

Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 212/2016/JN on the European Commission’s annual reviewing of Member States’ export credit agencies

Wednesday | 23 May 2018

The case concerned the adequacy of the European Commission’s annual reviewing of export credit agencies - national bodies that give financial support to companies doing business in ‘risky’ markets - in particular with respect to the protection of human rights and the environment.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and found that the Commission’s methodology and procedures could be improved. In particular, she suggested that the Commission should engage in a dialogue with Member States and other stakeholders with a view to improving the template used by Member States in compiling the reports on export credit agencies which they are required to submit to the Commission each year. The Ombudsman also proposed that the Commission, for its part, should enhance the analysis and evaluation content of the annual reviews of export credit agencies which it submits to the European Parliament.

The Commission rejected the Ombudsman’s proposals mainly because it considers that their implementation would require an amendment to the existing legislation. The Ombudsman disagreed with the Commission’s position and has now made recommendations to the Commission in the same terms as those of her earlier proposals.  The Ombudsman believes that the Commission’s annual review, which it sends to Parliament, should amount to more than a compilation of the content of the annual reports received from the Member States and that it should contain an informed and detailed evaluation of the performance of the export credit agencies, particularly, as regards respect for human rights and the environment.

Decision of the European Ombudsman in case 1167/2016/ANA on the Commission’s handling of allegations of improper behaviour in the course of an anti-dumping investigation

Friday | 18 May 2018

The case concerned the alleged misconduct by two European Commission officials from its Directorate-General for Trade within the context of an anti-dumping investigation.

The complainants, the companies that were the subject of the investigation , argued that the alleged misconduct infringed the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour on several counts as well as the European Ombudsman’s Public service principles and that the Commission failed to investigate the matter properly.

The Ombudsman inquired into this case and found that the Commission’s Investigation and Disciplinary Office (IDOC) assessed the evidence into the alleged misconduct and concluded that there was no evidence to justify a full administrative investigation.

Having examined the manner in which IDOC carried out its duties, the Ombudsman found that there was no maladministration as regards the handling of the Commission’s internal investigation. The responsible Commission’s department having properly dealt with the issue the Ombudsman thus found that there were no grounds to inquire further into the alleged misconduct.

That said, considering that in anti-dumping investigations which take place in third countries and where the Commission’s officials are in fact the face of the Union, extra care should be put to ensure that investigators behave impeccably even in adverse conditions. To this end, the Ombudsman made a suggestion for improvement recommending that the Commission issue appropriate internal guidelines to officials involved in anti-dumping investigations and, if necessary, provide appropriate and regular training.

Decision in case 624/2018/TE on how the European Commission dealt with a request for access to a list of meetings with stakeholders on the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement

Tuesday | 17 April 2018

The case concerned a request for access to a list of meetings between the Commission and stakeholders on the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement. EU access to documents rules only apply if the requested documents are in the possession of the institution concerned. The Commission rejected the request on the grounds that it has not drawn up such a list. In addition, it stated that it would be a disproportionate administrative burden to create such a list.

The Ombudsman was satisfied with the Commission’s explanation for not having such a list and agreed that it was not required to create one. She therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.