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European Ombudsman publishes Annual Report 2019

The European Ombudsman’s annual report for 2019 has been published, showing that the Ombudsman opened 458 inquiries and that the biggest proportion (26.9%) concerned transparency-related issues.

The Ombudsman conducted several inquiries into Member State decision making in Brussels in 2019 with the overall aim of making it easier for the public to understand how decisions are reached and who is involved. The inquiries concerned how decisions on annual fishing quotas are taken, Member States’ positions on the risk of pesticides to bees, and the transparency of the Eurogroup Working Group, which prepares the regular meetings of Euro finance ministers.

The Ombudsman also concluded a major analysis of how the European Commission manages revolving doors, making several proposals to ensure a more systematic approach to dealing with EU staff who leave to work in the private sector and those entering the EU civil service from the private sector.

Other inquiries led to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) introducing measures to strengthen the independence of the process leading to decisions on granting market access to new medicines, and to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) pledging to set up a complaints mechanism for those who feel their rights have been breached.

The European Network of Ombudsmen (ENO) continued to focus on parallel inquiries and initiatives, with 2019 seeing the conclusion of a strategic initiative  - involving seven national ombudsman offices - that had looked into the complaint mechanisms in Member States for matters concerning EU structural and investment funds.

The Ombudsman also hosted the second Award for Good Administration, which recognises excellence in EU public service. The overall award went to the teams from the European Commission that worked on the EU initiative to reduce plastic pollution and raise awareness about the problem.

The complete Annual Report 2019 is available here.