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Showing 1 - 20 of 159 results

Decision in case 1350/2018/MDC on the European Investment Bank’s alleged failure to address properly an allegation that an administrative inquiry was tainted by a conflict of interest

Thursday | 25 July 2019

The case concerned the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) alleged failure to address properly an allegation that an administrative inquiry launched against the complainant was tainted by a conflict of interest.

The European Ombudsman found that the EIB had provided sufficient evidence to refute the allegation of a conflict of interest. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 1762/2018/MMO on how the European Commission carried out a call for tenders in the context of the EU-China Energy Cooperation Platform

Friday | 12 July 2019

The case concerned alleged irregularities in a call for tenders organised by the European Commission in the context of the EU-China Cooperation Platform. According to the complainant, the tender procedure was subject to an error as the winning consortium  was in a situation of conflict of interest: it would implement the funding of energy projects in China while it has members who will benefit from that funding.

The Ombudsman concluded that the character of the project in question is inclusive and that the entity implementing the contract would have to engage as many entities active in the Chinese energy sector as possible. Moreover, the Commission at an early stage in the tendering process had clarified the issue of conflict of interest.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry finding that there was no maladministration by the Commission.

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 1474/2018/TE on alleged shortcomings and biases in the European Commission’s preparation of its policy and legislative proposal on the reduction of single-use plastic products

Friday | 22 March 2019

In May 2018, the European Commission adopted its legislative proposal for a Single Use Plastics Directive. The proposal sets out EU-wide rules targeting the ten single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas. The proposed rules include a ban on certain single-use plastic products, including food and beverage service products.

The complaint concerned a possible conflict of interest situation in the Commission’s preparation of its policy and legislative proposal on the reduction of single-use plastic products. The complainant also alleged that the Commission had failed to comply with its own Better Regulation Guidelines.

The Ombudsman understood that the complainant, an association representing manufacturers of food and drink packaging, was mainly dissatisfied with the substance of the Commission’s legislative proposal. While her inquiries will sometimes reveal issues with legislation, the Ombudsman has no mandate to open inquiries into the merits of EU legislation, nor into the merits of legislative proposals presented by the Commission to the EU legislature. The Ombudsman’s inquiry in the present case therefore focused on the administrative activity of the Commission in preparing the legislative proposal.

In this context, the Ombudsman examined the Commission’s tendering process for the preparation of the study underlying the EU Plastics Strategy and the legislative proposal for a Single Use Plastics Directive. She also carefully examined the compliance of the Commission with its Better Regulation Guidelines in the public consultation and impact assessment carried out in this context.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry did not bring to light any instance of maladministration. She therefore closed the case.

Decision in case 747/2016/PL on the European Food Safety Authority's use of the Threshold of Toxicological Concern

Monday | 17 December 2018

The case concerned how the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) uses the Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC). The TTC is a risk assessment tool based on the principle that there are exposure levels below which chemicals do not pose a significant risk to human health.

In 2014, EFSA and the World Health Organisation (WHO) hosted an expert workshop to review the science underlying the TTC concept. The conclusions of the workshop were subject to a public consultation and were published in March 2016.

The complainant, an NGO, questioned EFSA’s use of the TTC concept as it considered that it does not reflect current scientific evidence. It also said that many of the experts who took part in the workshop had conflicts of interests.

The European Ombudsman’s Office is not a scientific body and cannot take a view on the merits of a particular risk assessment tool, such as the TTC. On the basis of the review carried out in this case, the Ombudsman found EFSA’s explanations on the use of TTC to be reasonable.

Concerning the experts who took part in the workshop, the Ombudsman found that, in this particular case, EFSA was not obliged to screen them for conflicts of interests since it was reasonable for it to rely on the WHO’s prior screening of these experts.

The Ombudsman concluded that there was no maladministration by EFSA.

However, the Ombudsman suggested that EFSA see to it that experts who participate in conferences or meetings have no conflicts of interests, where the conference or meeting — like the one at issue — is organised to inform EFSA’s decision-making process, or could be perceived as doing so.

Décision dans l’affaire 1605/2018/TM relative à l’évaluation par le partenariat public-privé entre la Commission européenne et l’industrie aéronautique d’un projet coordonné par le plaignant dans le cadre de l’appel à projets JTI-CS2-2017-CfP07-LPA-01-39

Friday | 26 October 2018

L’affaire portait sur l’évaluation du projet coordonné par le plaignant dans le cadre d’un appel à propositions d’une action financée par le programme Clean Sky.[1] Le plaignant avait contesté l’évaluation de la proposition par l’entreprise commune composée par le partenariat public-privé entre la Commission européenne et l’industrie aéronautique. Il avait introduit une demande de réévaluation auprès de l’entreprise commune qui n’avait pas aboutie. La Médiatrice a enquêté dans cette affaire et a conclu qu’il n’y pas eu de mauvaise administration dans cette affaire.

 

[1] Clean Sky est un programme européen de recherche développant une technologie innovante visant à réduire les émissions de CO2, de gaz et de bruit produites par les avions. Le programme est financé dans le cadre Horizon 2020.
Plus d'informations sont disponibles ici: http://cleansky.tinkerbox.be/#no-back

Decision of the European Ombudsman in the joint inquiry into complaints 194/2017/EA, 334/2017/EA, and 543/2017/EA on the European Commission’s handling of post-mandate employment of former Commissioners, a former Commission President and the role of its ‘Ethics Committee’

Friday | 20 July 2018

The EU Treaties require Commissioners to act with integrity and discretion even after their mandates as Commissioners end. The Commission’s Code of Conduct for Commissioners seeks to ensure that Commissioners and former Commissioners comply with this duty. It states that, for a specified period of time after they have left office, former Commissioners should not lobby members of the Commission, or their staff, on matters for which they were previously responsible. Former Commissioners are also required, during that same period, to inform the Commission if they intend to accept a new job offer. The Commission then, after consulting a three‐person Ethics Committee, decides whether the proposed job is compatible with the duty to act with integrity and discretion.

In 2017, the Ombudsman received three complaints about how the Commission reacted when informed that a former Commission President was employed by Goldman Sachs International. The Commission consulted the Ethics Committee, which concluded that there were not sufficient grounds to establish a violation of the former Commission President’s legal obligations. When arriving at this conclusion, the Ethics Committee took into account the former Commission President’s written statement that he had not been engaged to lobby of behalf of Goldman Sachs and that he did not intend to do so.

The Commission did not follow-up on this opinion by taking a formal decision on the matter.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and found that the Commission should have taken a formal reasoned decision, based on a careful assessment of the opinion of the Ethics Committee. Its failure to do so constituted maladministration.

The Ombudsman also noted that the former Commission President had met with a current Commission Vice President in 2017. This meeting was registered as a meeting with Goldman Sachs. The content of the meeting also led to the conclusion that the meeting covered, at least in part, trade and defence matters. The Ombudsman noted that the Ethics Committee had, when adopting its opinion on the employment of the former Commission President, put special emphasis on his commitment not to lobby the Commission. In this context, the Ombudsman recommended that the Commission should refer the case back to the Ethics Committee for a new opinion. The Ombudsman also recommended that the Commission should consider formally requiring its former President to abstain from lobbying the Commission for an additional number of years.

The Ombudsman also found that while the present Commission had made real progress in improving the Code of Conduct, this case raised a number of outstanding systemic issues. In order for the Commission to further strengthen its procedures, the Ombudsman made a number of suggestions for improvement.

The Commission’s reply to the Ombudsman’s recommendations and suggestions for improvement was not satisfactory. The Ombudsman therefore closes her inquiry by confirming her finding of maladministration, her recommendations and her suggestions for improvement.

Decision of the European Ombudsman on the involvement of the President of the European Central Bank and members of its decision-making bodies in the ‘Group of Thirty’ (Case 1697/2016/ANA)

Thursday | 05 July 2018

This case concerned the membership of President Draghi and the involvement of senior staff of the European Central Bank (ECB) in the ‘Group of 30’, a private group that includes senior public officials, academics and private sector bankers (including representatives from a number of major banks either directly or indirectly supervised by the ECB).

In her inquiry, the Ombudsman examined whether the President of the ECB should continue as a member of the “G30” and whether he and the members of the ECB’s decision-making bodies should continue to participate in G30 activities and, if so, under what conditions.

The Ombudsman found that the ECB President’s continued membership of the G30 could undermine public confidence in the independence of the ECB. The Ombudsman therefore recommended to the ECB that its President should suspend his membership of the G30.

The Ombudsman acknowledged that participation by the ECB in certain G30 activities may, subject to certain conditions, comply with the principles of good administration. To ensure that it is always the case that participation complies with the principles of good administration, the Ombudsman made a number of recommendations to the ECB.

The ECB’s reply to the Ombudsman’s recommendations was not satisfactory. It remained in denial regarding the implications of the membership of its President in the G30 and refused to improve its applicable rules and procedures.

Therefore, the Ombudsman closes her inquiry by confirming her findings of maladministration.