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European Ombudsman to investigate dispute resolution procedures for seconded national experts

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has opened an inquiry into the availability of internal dispute resolution procedures for national experts who are seconded to the European Commission. The Ombudsman opened the own-initiative inquiry after he was alerted to the fact that national experts may not have access to such a procedure. Officials and other servants of the institutions have access to an internal dispute resolution procedure through Article 90 of the Staff Regulations.

In the Ombudsman's view, "the experience of ombudsmen .... is that an effective internal dispute resolution procedure enables a public body to resolve a high proportion of problems itself, either by taking remedial action .... or by explaining its position to the complainant". He has therefore asked the Commission:

  • whether it receives complaints from seconded national experts concerning matters related to their secondment and how any such complaints are dealt with;
  • whether, if no internal dispute resolution procedure currently exists, the Commission would be willing to introduce a suitable provision in the rules applicable to seconded national experts.

The Ombudsman has asked the Commission to reply by 31 January 2004.

According to the Ombudsman, such a procedure could benefit the experts by:

  • providing a quick, easy, and cost-effective means of resolving difficulties;
  • fostering a greater sense of inclusiveness;
  • promoting a sense of empowerment; and
  • giving individuals the assurance that their complaints are being taken seriously and that they are being treated properly, fairly and impartially, thereby promoting trust in the administration.

The Commission would also benefit from a procedure that could:

  • serve as a quick and efficient means of resolving difficulties;
  • promote good internal relations and communications;
  • encourage a positive attitude towards the administration; and
  • highlight shortcomings and areas which could be improved.
Background

Seconded national experts are national or international civil servants or persons employed in the private sector who are working temporarily for European institutions. According to their liaison committee, there are around 900 such experts in the Commission.

 

For further information, please call Elodie Belfy, Legal Assistant, tel. +32 2 284 39 01.

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