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EU can be global leader for transparent and ethical public administration

The European Union can and must become a global leader in open, transparent and ethical public administration, according to the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly.

Speaking at an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Office, Ms O’Reilly said:

The pandemic has forcefully reminded us of the vital need for excellent public services and for the creation of maximum public trust in their administration. Governing without that trust impedes the necessary and effective responses to the virus.

She added: “Transparency and openness are not abstract concepts. When they are lost or absent, the fabric of the social contract between those who govern and those who are governed is damaged, and the consequences are negative for both.”

She noted that while no administration is perfect, the EU administration has high standards and can use its significant soft power to influence change globally.

Democracy works on the basis of trust but also on a strong system of checks and balances.  Citizens need to know that oversight bodies work independently and with the public interest as their only interest. We have seen across the world and in parts of the EU itself the damage caused to democracy when power is exercised in defiance of that independent oversight. The EU can and should show leadership through its strong championing of independent oversight and excellence in public administration,” she said.

The Ombudsman said that from small beginnings, and with few resources, the Ombudsman’s Office is now playing a significant role in supporting the EU administration in those aims. However, more needs to be done in several areas and the Ombudsman will continue to push for further progress.

The EU Treaties give a vital role to the Ombudsman and the Charter of Fundamental Rights decrees that citizens have a fundamental right to good administration. I intend to continue my strong collaboration with the institutions, agencies and bodies of the EU to achieve even better outcomes for all EU citizens in the challenging years ahead,” said the Ombudsman.

For an overview of the European Ombudsman’s key achievements since 1995, please see here.

Read the Ombudsman’s speech in full here.

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