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Showing 1 - 20 of 541 results

Decision in case 1490/2017/JAP on the European Commission’s rejection of costs incurred in a project aimed at tackling the unemployment of young people in Slovenia and Croatia

Tuesday | 30 July 2019

The case concerned the Commission’s rejection of costs related to the administration and implementation of a project aimed at tackling the unemployment of young people in Slovenia and Croatia. The Commission refused to make the final payment of some EUR 24 000. It argued that the corresponding costs which were due to an increase in the working days of a number of employees were exaggerated.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission had not taken into account the extension of time necessary to complete the project. Given that an extension had been granted, it was reasonable to expect that the number of working days would increase as well. She considered the Commission’s conduct inconsistent and asked the Commission to reconsider its position.

The Commission reassessed its position but, invoking the principle of sound financial management, decided not to allow any further costs.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry as there was no prospect for a positive result for the complainant. To avoid similar problems in the future, the Ombudsman suggested that the Commission sensitise beneficiaries taking over the implementation of projects to the need of resubmitting an updated estimated budget and working time arrangements.

Decision in case 649/2019/TE on the Council’s failure to make available a German translation of a press release

Tuesday | 16 July 2019

The complaint concerned the fact that a press release containing remarks made by European Council President Donald Tusk on 6 February 2019 was made available in English, French and Irish only. The remarks were made following a meeting with the Irish Prime Minister.

The complainant had asked the Council to make available a German version of the press release. The Council replied that the press release would eventually be translated into all EU official languages.

The Ombudsman understands that it is the Council’s current practice to make remarks by the European Council President available in all EU official languages only in certain circumstances, for example when speaking after meetings of the European Council. Remarks made by the President following meetings with individual heads of state or government are generally made available either in English only, or in English and French, or in English, French and one additional official language. Thus, contrary to what the complainant was initially told by the Council, the press release in question was not translated into all official languages.

The Ombudsman acknowledges the need to strike an appropriate balance between linguistic diversity and administrative and budgetary constraints when translating documents. She also acknowledges that the EU institutions have some discretion in striking this balance. She considers that it was not manifestly wrong of the Council to make available the press release in question in English, French and Irish. At the same time, she considers that the Council should be transparent and clear about its translation policy and inform citizens accordingly. In this case, it provided misleading information to the complainant. This was regrettable.

Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 723/2018/AMF on how the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security handled a public tender procedure

Monday | 01 July 2019

The case concerned a public tender procedure by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security for the organization of an event. The Agency failed to reply to the questions submitted by the complainant during the preparation of its tender. However, the Agency did reply to the questions from another tenderer.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the failure to reply to the complainant´s questions was contrary to the principle of equal treatment and constituted maladministration. She therefore makes a recommendation that ENISA compensate the complainant for the time and resources invested in preparing its tender.

Decision in case 1946/2018/KR on how the General Secretariat of the Council informs the public about meetings that the European Council President and members of his private office have with interest representatives

Tuesday | 18 June 2019

The case concerned a request by a non-governmental organisation to the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (GSC) to make public information about all meetings held between interest representatives and the President of the European Council, as well as members of his private office (‘cabinet’).

The General Secretariat of the Council replied to the complainant that while it is under no legal obligation to maintain a record of the meetings of the President or the cabinet members with external stakeholders, it is committed to publishing relevant information about meetings in a structured and proactive manner.

During the inquiry, the Ombudsman found that information on the meetings held by European Council President Tusk with interest representatives is made public. However, no information is available about any meetings that may take place between members of the President’s cabinet and interest representatives.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry making several suggestions aimed at improving the information that the GSC makes public.

Decision in case 1429/2016/SRS on how the European Commission handled a request for public access to documents concerning the free movement of persons in the context of Brexit

Friday | 14 June 2019

This case concerned a request for access to documents concerning the ‘free movement of persons’ under the now obsolete ‘New Settlement’ agreed by the United Kingdom and the European Union in 2016, prior to the UK’s decision to leave the EU. In denying access to the documents in question, the European Commission made use of exceptions provided for in the EU’s rules on public access to documents. It mainly argued that disclosing the documents would undermine its decision-making processes concerning the EU’s negotiations with the UK on its withdrawal from the EU.

The complainant was dissatisfied with the reasons put forward by the Commission and with the time taken by the Commission to reply to his requests. He thus turned to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman considered that in view of the preliminary nature of the discussions detailed in the documents, the status of the Brexit negotiations at that time and the political sensitivity for the parties involved, no further inquiries were justified given the lapse of time and events in the Brexit process. She therefore closed the inquiry.

Decision in case 1302/2017/MH on the European Commission’s handling of a request for public access to the opinions of its Legal Service concerning the Transparency Register

Wednesday | 12 June 2019

Access Info Europe asked the European Commission to give public access to the advice it received from its Legal Service in 2006 and 2007 on the introduction of a transparency register, and in 2013 on the choice of legal basis for a mandatory transparency register. The Commission gave partial access to these documents. As the complainant was dissatisfied both with the level of access given and the delay in dealing with the requests, it turned to the European Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issues raised and inspected the requested documents. She considered that the factual and legal situation had changed since drafting the documents. She therefore proposed that the Commission grant full access to the requested documents, subject only to the redaction of personal data. The Commission rejected that proposal.

The Ombudsman regrets that the Commission did not follow her proposal for solution. She finds that the Commission’s continued refusal to grant wider access to the documents constitutes maladministration. 

Decision in case 2006/2017/CEC on how the Court of Justice of the European Union adopted its new Code of Conduct and handled requests for access to documents

Wednesday | 05 June 2019

The complainant is a former judge at the EU’s General Court, which is the court of first instance within the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). He complained to the Ombudsman that the CJEU had wrongly extended the scope of its Code of Conduct for Members and former Members. He also claimed that the CJEU had handled incorrectly a number of his requests for public access to documents. The documents related, among other things, to the adoption of the new Code of Conduct, the recruitment of a director, the use of official drivers at the CJEU, the reform of the General Court, and 75 of the former judge’s own memoranda and related documents.

The Ombudsman cannot inquire into the activities of the CJEU when it is acting in its judicial role. Moreover, the Ombudsman cannot examine complaints where the issues raised are or have been the subject of legal proceedings.

For these two reasons, the Ombudsman found that she could not look into how the CJEU amended the Code of Conduct. Specifically, the question of whether the adoption of the code amounts to judicial activity is the subject of an ongoing court case.

Similarly, two of the complainant’s requests for access to documents are the subject of court proceedings. Regarding one of the other two requests, the Ombudsman noted that the CJEU had granted the complainant partial access, disclosing 190 documents amounting to 1 686 pages. Regarding the other request, the CJEU disclosed 557 documents amounting to 2 960 pages. Having carefully reviewed the reasons given by the CJEU for refusing access to the remaining documents, or parts thereof, as well as the arguments put forward by the complainant, the Ombudsman found that there was no maladministration by the CJEU.

Decision in case 1955/2017/THH on the Council of the European Union’s refusal to grant public access to opinions evaluating the merits of candidates for appointment to the Court of Justice and the General Court of the European Union

Thursday | 23 May 2019

The case before the Ombudsman concerned the refusal of the Council of the European Union (the Council) to give an NGO public access to opinions evaluating the suitability of candidates for the positions of Judges and Advocates-General at the Court of Justice and the General Court of the European Union. These opinions, drawn up by a Panel on Judicial Appointments, are used by Member States when they deliberate on the merits of appointing Judges and Advocates-General.

The Council refused to give full public access to the opinions, relying on the need to protect the Panel’s decision-making process, the need to protect the Courts’ proceedings, the need to protect the candidates’ privacy and integrity, and the need to protect the candidates’ commercial interests.

The Ombudsman found that the Council was justified in refusing to grant full public access to the opinions, primarily to ensure that the Panel continued to be free to express frank and robust views on the merits of candidates.

She therefore found no maladministration and closed the case.

The Ombudsman nonetheless welcomed the public interest served in submitting the complaint as it provided an opportunity for some independent scrutiny of a matter of significant importance to EU citizens.