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Showing 1 - 20 of 167 results

Decision in case 1848/2018/KR on the European Commission’s rejection of an organisation's application in a call for proposals which aimed to establish support for European networks active in the area of rights of persons with disabilities

Thursday | 07 November 2019

The case concerned a 2017 grant procedure organised by the European Commission under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme. The complainant is the European Network on Independent Living (‘ENIL’), a Europe-wide network of people with disabilities, who applied for a grant under this procedure.

The Commission assessed ENIL’s application and decided not to recommend it for funding. The complainant alleged that the Commission had not evaluated its application fairly. The complainant also argued there was a lack of transparency preventing it from establishing in what respect its application for funding failed to meet the different evaluation criteria.

The Ombudsman inspected documents in the Commission’s file on the grant procedure and found no evidence of unfair treatment of the complainant. The Ombudsman concluded that the Commission’s reasoning and scoring in the assessment of the proposals was plausible and consistent.

The Ombudsman also assessed whether the Commission had provided the complainant with enough information about why its proposal was rejected. The Ombudsman found that the Commission had informed the complainant about why its bid was unsuccessful, including by meeting the complainant after the rejection letter had been sent out.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry finding no maladministration. She noted, however, that the Commission should give an entity seeking funding a full copy of the Commission’s overall assessment of the proposal, on request, including the marks awarded for each criterion and an explanation as regards why that mark was awarded.

Decision in case 402/2018/MH on how the European Investment Bank dealt with concerns about its 2017 staff elections

Thursday | 17 October 2019

The complainant is a member of staff at the European Investment Bank. His complaint to the Ombudsman was about how the EIB dealt with his concerns about an IT incident during the 2017 staff elections.

The Ombudsman inquired into the complainant’s concerns. She agreed that it was inappropriate for a candidate to have had access to the electronic voting platform during the election. She noted, however, that the EIB had reacted quickly to the incident and that it has, in the meantime, taken measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

On this basis, the Ombudsman concluded that no further inquiries were justified, and closed the case.

Decision in case 149/2018/MH on how the European Investment Bank dealt with concerns about its 2017 staff elections

Thursday | 17 October 2019

The complainant is a member of staff at the European Investment Bank. His complaint to the Ombudsman was about how the EIB dealt with his concerns relating to the 2017 staff elections.

The Ombudsman inquired into the complainant’s concerns that an election candidate should not have stood due to a possible conflict of interest situation. The Ombudsman also inquired into whether a Director General was in a conflict of interest situation when replying to the complainant about his concerns.

The Ombudsman found that the EIB had put in place reasonable measures before the staff election to prevent possible conflicts of interest concerning the candidate in question. Regarding the Director General, the EIB clarified that there was no conflict of interest situation.

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

Decision in case 1388/2018/MH on the European Commission’s decision to recover part of the funds granted for a project on drug policy

Friday | 30 August 2019

The complaint concerns the European Commission’s decision to recover part of the funds granted for an EU project on drug policy. The complainant, a Greek non-profit association, disagreed with the finding that certain costs relating to the work carried out by its president were ineligible.

The Ombudsman inquired into whether the Commission’s decision was fair and reasonable. From a legal perspective, the complainant had not adhered to some of the rules. The auditors had therefore initially proposed to recover all the costs relating to the president’s work. Nonetheless, the Commission reached a fair and just solution for the complainant, and considered some of the president’s costs eligible, based on the ‘best value for money’ principle. Accordingly, it reduced the recovery amount considerably.

The Ombudsman therefore closes the case finding no maladministration.

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.