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Showing 1 - 20 of 78 results

Decision in cases 1056/2018/JN and 1369/2019/JN on the European Commission’s actions regarding the respect for fundamental labour rights in Bangladesh in the context of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences

Tuesday | 24 March 2020

The case concerned the actions taken by the European Commission regarding Bangladesh in the context of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences. The complainants considered that Bangladesh does not fully respect fundamental labour rights and that, therefore, the Commission should start the procedure allowing it to withdraw Bangladesh’s trade preferences under the scheme.

The Commission informed the Ombudsman of how it has engaged with Bangladesh on the issue so far and the actions it has taken. It said that it may decide to withdraw Bangladesh’s trade preferences as a measure of last resort.

The decision as to whether or not to launch a withdrawal procedure involves complex policy judgments. The Commission has a broad margin of discretion in determining when to do so. The Ombudsman took the view that the explanations the Commission had provided for its chosen course of action were reasonable. She closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 1052/2019/MMO on how the European Commission dealt with a complaint concerning the European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Thursday | 23 January 2020

The complainant had contacted the European Commission to raise concerns about what he saw as the failure of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) to comply with health and safety rules. The complainant argued that the Commission had a responsibility to monitor EMBL activities, as the Commission is an ‘observer’ on the council of the EMBL, which also receives EU funding. The Commission, for its part, said that it was not responsible for the activities of the EMBL.

In the context of her inquiry, the Ombudsman asked the Commission to provide a more comprehensive reply to the complainant. The Commission replied that organisations in receipt of EU funds must adhere to ethical principles and all national and international law, including health and safety regulations. The Commission invited the complainant to identify the grant agreement under which the EMBL received funding for the activities at issue and provide more information on the alleged breaches.

The Ombudsman found the Commission’s reply to be reasonable and closed the case.

Decision in case 1933/2018/KR on the European Commission’s action relating to the drawing up of the EU list of ‘Projects of Common Interest’ in the energy sector

Thursday | 28 November 2019

The case concerned the inclusion of a project on the EU’s third list of Projects of Common Interest (‘PCIs’). PCIs are infrastructure project proposals that the Commission considers will improve and integrate energy markets in the EU.

The complainant, a member of an NGO called ‘Safety Before LNG’, is concerned about the inclusion of a project on the PCI-list, namely the ‘Shannon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal and connecting pipeline project’. He is of the view that this project should have been the subject of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA), before it was included on the third PCI-list.

The Commission pointed out that it is the responsibility of the Member States in which projects are carried out to ensure that the project meets all EU and national environmental rules. The Ombudsman noted, in this regard, that the Member State authorities in Ireland, including the courts, are carefully examining the compliance of the proposed gas terminal with EU law. The Ombudsman further accepted the Commission’s argument that it has no power to carry out an SEA. The Ombudsman thus found the Commission’s explanation on the matter to be convincing.

The Ombudsman takes note, however, of the complainant’s point about heightened awareness of the negative impact of certain fossil fuels on the climate. Given that the list of PCIs is intended to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, she trusts that the Commission too will continue to pay particular attention to this issue of major importance to citizens.

Decision of the European Ombudsman in case 1139/2018/MDC on the conduct of experts in interviews with asylum seekers organised by the European Asylum Support Office

Monday | 30 September 2019

The complainant alleged misconduct by experts in interviews with asylum seekers organised by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Greece.

The Ombudsman found that EASO’s failure to address adequately and in a timely way the serious errors it had uncovered in a particular case before the asylum seeker in question was deported constituted maladministration. Since, regrettably, the maladministration cannot be remedied at this stage, the Ombudsman did not proceed to a recommendation. To avoid similar problems in the future, however, the Ombudsman suggested that EASO seek to inform the national authorities, immediately and systematically, if it discovers that significant errors have been made during interviews with asylum seekers.

The Ombudsman welcomed EASO’s statement that it is working to set up a complaints mechanism, and suggested that it do so as a matter of priority. Finally, the Ombudsman asked EASO to explain how it overcomes the challenges identified in this case in relation to the work and supervision of interpreters.