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Showing 1 - 20 of 96 results

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 1113/2018/TM on the European Commission’s decision not to web stream the event "No Child Left Behind "

Tuesday | 16 April 2019

The case concerned the event "No Child Left Behind: Families not institutions - EU external action championing children's rights" which was co-organised by an NGO and the European Commission. Access to the event was by invitation only. The complainant was concerned that the Commission had decided not to web stream the event.

The Commission based its decision on the protection of privacy of the young people, including children, who participated in the event.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission acted reasonably and found no maladministration in this case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman in case 934/2018/RM on how the European Commission dealt with a request for public access to briefing documents for the Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources

Tuesday | 04 December 2018

The case concerned a request for access to briefing documents prepared for meetings of the Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources and his advisors with third parties. The European Commission had not taken a decision on the request after more than a year. The Ombudsman found that this delay constituted maladministration, and recommended that the Commission take a decision without delay.

The Commission subsequently failed to meet the deadline for responding to the Ombudsman, even after this was extended, but apologised for this when it finally sent its formal opinion. The Ombudsman found the excessive delays in this case to be regrettable. However, she found the solution offered by the Commission, making available documents from 12 meetings of the Commissioner, to be reasonable.  

Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 934/2018/RM on the European Commission’s failure to deal with a request for access to briefing documents for the Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources within an acceptable time frame

Thursday | 12 July 2018

The case concerned a request for access to briefing documents prepared for meetings of the Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources and his advisors with third parties. The Commission has not taken a decision on the request after more than a year.

In the course of the inquiry, the Commission indicated that it was still not in a position to take a decision. The Ombudsman found that this delay constituted maladministration, and recommended that the Commission take a decision without delay and provide the complainant with a list of all the documents covered by his request.  

Decision of the European Ombudsman in her strategic inquiry OI/6/2014/NF concerning the composition and transparency of European Commission expert groups

Tuesday | 14 November 2017

The EU has the responsibility and challenge of proposing and agreeing policy and
legislation which affects over 500 million Europeans. The development of policy, including
policy that gives rise to proposals for new EU legislation, is one of the main tasks of the
European Commission. While the Commission relies heavily on its internal expertise and
experience in this work, it also relies on a wide range of external sources, such as
specialised European agencies, studies carried out for it by experts and academics,
feedback on its 'green papers', public consultations and hearings, and over 800 expert
groups.


This strategic inquiry concerned one important aspect of the European Commission’s
reliance on external sources of expertise, namely its system of expert groups. The
Commission establishes expert groups to seek external advice and expertise from
individuals, organisations and/or Member States and other public authorities as it prepares
legislative proposals and policy initiatives, drafts delegated acts, and implements existing
legislation, programmes and policies. It is for the Commission to decide how to take into
account the expertise and advice provided by its expert groups when carrying out its
duties in the general interest of the European Union.


Building on the Commission’s previous achievements in improving its management of
these groups, the Ombudsman’s inquiry aimed at assisting the Commission in identifying
and addressing the main systemic weaknesses in its general rules governing expert
groups. After carrying out a public consultation, the Ombudsman made a range of
suggestions to the Commission on how to improve the rules in the following areas:
achieving a balanced composition of expert groups, calls for applications for expert group
membership, synergies with the Transparency Register, conflict of interest policy for
individual experts appointed in a personal capacity, and improvement of data availability
on the expert groups register.


Regarding transparency of expert groups’ work, there was significant room for
improvement. The Ombudsman thus made two specific recommendations to the
Commission with a view to allowing the public to follow the detail of expert group
deliberations and to know, ultimately, whose viewpoints influenced the Commission.
In 2016, in the course of this Ombudsman inquiry and following calls from the European
Parliament and civil society, the Commission reformed its expert group system. It issued a
Commission Decision with revised rules governing the functioning and work of its expert
groups. With its reform, the Commission has significantly overhauled its expert group rules
and has put in place a more robust and transparent system. The new rules are largely in
line with the Ombudsman’s suggestions. In particular, the Commission has made the
selection procedure for expert group members more transparent, it has put in place a new
conflict of interest policy for individual experts appointed in a personal capacity, and it now
requires organisations and self-employed individuals to be registered in the Transparency
Register in order to be appointed to expert groups.


The Commission has also made good progress on facilitating better public scrutiny of the
work of expert groups. Meeting minutes are now required to be “meaningful and
complete”, members can have their dissenting opinions published, and expert groups may
decide to deliberate publicly. In the event of public deliberations, the public may be invited
to attend a meeting or the meeting may be web streamed.
The Ombudsman closes this inquiry, now that reform of the expert group system has been
achieved. She will continue to monitor the Commission’s implementation of its reforms of
the expert groups system.

Outcome of the strategic inquiry - key improvements at a glance:

Legally binding rules and increased political accountability for expert groups

Public calls for applications as a standard means of selecting members

Mandatory registration in the Transparency Register

Links between the entries in the expert groups register and the Transparency
Register

Consistent categorisation of organisations

New conflict of interest policy for individual experts appointed in their personal
capacity

Description of mandate and advice needed for each new group

Meaningful and complete minutes of meetings

Publication of dissenting opinions

Arrangements for public deliberations