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Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 1069/2019/MIG on sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Monday | 06 January 2020

Made in accordance with Article 3(6) of the Statute of the European Ombudsman[1]

This case concerns the sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The complainant considered that the Council should regulate or prohibit sponsorship.

The Council argued that the sponsorship of the Presidency is the sole responsibility of the Member State government responsible for the Presidency, and that it could therefore not address the matter.

The Ombudsman notes that the Presidency is part of the Council, and must operate in a neutral and impartial manner. When the Presidency organises a meeting or another activity, whether in Brussels or in its home Member State, the wider European public is bound to perceive this activity as linked to the Council and the EU as a whole.

As such, the Council’s stance that it has no responsibility when it comes to sponsorship of the Council Presidency, which ignores the risk of reputational damage to the neutrality of the Presidency, constitutes maladministration. The Ombudsman therefore makes a recommendation that the Council issue guidance to Member States on the issue of sponsorship of the Presidency to mitigate the reputational risks to the EU.

 

[1] Decision of the European Parliament of 9 March 1994 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman's duties (94/262/ECSC, EC, Euratom): https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/GA/TXT/?uri=CELEX:31994D0262.  

Decision in case 1081/2018/SRS on a public consultation carried out by the European Commission on reforming investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) by creating a multilateral system

Tuesday | 17 December 2019

The case concerned a public consultation organised by the European Commission on reforming investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) by creating a multilateral system. The complainant considered that the consultation was not in line with the relevant rules, notably that the timing and scope of the consultation meant that respondents could not provide effective input to the decision-making process. The complainant was also concerned that the Commission had misrepresented the results of the consultation.

The Ombudsman found that the consultation was in line with the applicable rules. She considered that, in defining the scope of the consultation, the Commission had balanced the need for clarity on a technical matter with the aim of making consultations accessible to the broadest possible audience, including non-experts. A further important element was that the Commission had invited participants to provide input in other formats, including by submitting position papers.

The Ombudsman also found that the Commission had not misrepresented the results of the consultation in the ‘impact assessment report’ it produced. However, she stressed that the Commission should ensure that any summaries of the results of public consultations that it makes available should provide an accurate overview for decision makers. She saw room for improvement in this case in terms of how the Commission summarised the outcome.

While the Ombudsman thus closes the inquiry having found no maladministration, she makes two suggestions for improvement to the Commission.

Decision in case 452/2018/AMF on the European Commission’s failure to disclose information on the existence of EU Pilot dialogues and to publish proactively Member State reports on the implementation of the Fisheries Control Regulation

Monday | 16 December 2019

The case concerned a refusal by the European Commission to give an environmental NGO general information about discussions between the Commission and Member States regarding their potential non-compliance with the EU’s Fisheries Control Regulation. The complainant also asked the Commission to publish proactively Member State reports on how they implemented the Fisheries Control Regulation.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission was wrong not to provide the complainant with the information it requested and made a recommendation in that regard. The Ombudsman also suggested that the Commission proactively publish Member State reports on the implementation of the Fisheries Control Regulation. The Commission accepted the Ombudsman´s suggestion but rejected the Ombudsman´s recommendation.

The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of maladministration.

Decision in case 1022/2018/NH on the European Commission’s failure to provide detailed feedback and information related to the complainant’s participation in a selection procedure for the post of principal advisor to a Director-General

Thursday | 14 November 2019

The complainant participated in a special selection procedure organised by the European Commission to recruit a Croatian Principal Advisor. She turned to the Ombudsman to complain about the Commission’s failure to provide her with detailed feedback on how it had assessed her application, as well as other information and documents regarding the selection procedure.

In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the Commission provided detailed feedback and further explanations regarding the selection procedure. The Ombudsman thus considered the main aspects of the case to have been settled. The Ombudsman found no maladministration in the Commission not disclosing certain documents or as regards the complainant’s concern about age discrimination.

The Ombudsman made a suggestion for improvement for the Commission to give more timely and tailored feedback in the future.