You have a complaint against an EU institution or body?

Search inquiries

Text search

Document type

Institution concerned

Type of settlement

Case number

Language

Date range

Keywords

Or try old keywords (Before 2016)

Showing 1 - 20 of 104 results

Decision in case 1688/2015/JAP on the European Commission’s decision to recover funds from a participant in an EU project on older people and ICT (SENIOR)

Friday | 06 October 2017

The complainant, a Belgian-based non-profit organisation, took part in an EU-funded project that aimed to address issues faced by older people in using ICT solutions. A financial audit found that the system used by the complainant for recording working time was unreliable. As a consequence, the Commission sought to recover more than EUR 85 000 from the complainant.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the auditors had recognised that the work done by the complainant on two specific ‘deliverables’ was legitimate, as was the working time involved. She thus considered that the Commission had not been justified in rejecting the personnel costs linked to this work. To address this, she made a recommendation to the Commission to reduce the amount it was seeking to recover accordingly.

The Commission fully accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendation and agreed to reduce the amount to be recovered by nearly EUR 37 000. Against that background, the Ombudsman closed the case. However, the Ombudsman continues with a separate inquiry regarding the recovery of funds in relation to the other “deliverables”.

Decision of the European Ombudsman on complaint 2377/2013/(PMC)DR concerning the European Court of Justice's rules governing a tender procedure in the field of translations

Thursday | 01 September 2016

The case concerned the evaluation by the European Court of Justice of two tenders for legal translation services. The complainant, an unsuccessful tenderer, alleged that the tender procedure did not meet the standards of good administration because (i) the evaluation of the tenders was not properly documented, (ii) there was no opportunity to ask for an internal administrative review and (iii) it did not guarantee anonymity.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration by the Court. The Ombudsman, however, made three suggestions for improvement to the Court, namely that it (i) require internal evaluators to sign and date the evaluation sheets of tests, (ii) set up an internal review mechanism for dealing with complaints by unsuccessful applicants and (iii) anonymise the tests of tenderers for the purposes of the assessment made by the internal evaluators during the evaluation process.

Decision in case 520/2014/PMC concerning the European Commission's refusal of access to documents relating to its decision not to take a position as to the compatibility of the complainant's commercial practices with EU competition rules

Wednesday | 24 February 2016

The complainant, a fair-trade certification association, asked the Commission to issue a decision or an informal guidance letter as regards the compatibility of its commercial practices with EU competition rules. Following the Commission's rejection of the complainant's request, the latter applied for public access to the Commission's file. The complainant contested the Commission's decision not to grant full access to its internal correspondence and an internal note.

In the course of her inquiry, the Ombudsman set out her preliminary view that the Commission had redacted more information than was strictly necessary. The Ombudsman is pleased that the Commission has re-examined the documents concerned and decided to grant wider access. She thus considers the case resolved.

Decision of the European Ombudsman in complaint 915/2015/PMC concerning the European Personnel Selection Office's (EPSO) handling of an alleged technical fault

Wednesday | 28 October 2015

The complainant, who participated in an EPSO recruitment procedure, did not book a date for his computer-based test within the prescribed time-limit and he was thus excluded from the procedure. The complainant argued that EPSO had not sent him an invitation to book the test. EPSO insisted that an invitation had been sent. The Ombudsman's inquiry team inspected EPSO's file and found no indication of any technical problem that could have resulted in a failure to send the complainant the automatic invitation to sit the computer-based test in time. The Ombudsman therefore found no maladministration by EPSO.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 17/2012/PMC against the European Commission

Monday | 18 May 2015

This case concerned the EU Delegation to Armenia's alleged unlawful and/or unfair decision to terminate a grant contract related to a project implemented in Armenia and Jordan, to the detriment of the complainant, an Italian NGO active in the field of development cooperation. After a careful assessment of all the facts and arguments, the Ombudsman concluded that the Delegation's explanation for the termination decision was incomplete. The Ombudsman therefore suggested that the Commission, in its supervisory role over the EU Delegations, provide the complainant with a more comprehensive explanation as to the grounds for terminating the project.

In reply to the Ombudsman's proposal, the Commission declared that the Delegation had taken all the relevant factors into consideration when deciding to terminate the contract. However, it recognised that the explanation for terminating the grant might not have been sufficiently comprehensive. Therefore, it forwarded to the Ombudsman a letter which the Delegation had sent to the complainant explaining all the factors it took into account in its assessment.

The Ombudsman considered that the Commission had taken steps to resolve the matter and thus decided to close the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2527/2011/PMC against the European Commission

Tuesday | 05 May 2015

This case concerned the EU Delegation to Armenia's alleged unlawful and/or unfair decision to terminate a grant contract related to a project implemented in Armenia and Jordan, to the detriment of the complainant, an Italian NGO active in the field of development cooperation. After a careful assessment of all the facts and arguments, the Ombudsman concluded that the Delegation's explanation for the termination decision was incomplete. The Ombudsman therefore suggested that the Commission, in its supervisory role over the EU Delegations, provide the complainant with a more comprehensive explanation as to the grounds for terminating the project.

In reply to the Ombudsman's proposal, the Commission declared that the Delegation had taken all the relevant factors into consideration when deciding to terminate the contract. However, it recognised that the explanation for terminating the grant might not have been sufficiently comprehensive. Therefore, it forwarded to the Ombudsman a letter which the Delegation had sent to the complainant explaining all the factors it took into account in its assessment.

Notwithstanding the fact that the complainant expressed its dissatisfaction with the Commission's reply to her proposal for a friendly solution, the Ombudsman considered that the Commission had taken steps to resolve the matter. She thus decided to close the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 402/2014/PMC against the European Commission

Tuesday | 31 March 2015

The complaint was made against the Commission by a representative of a group of citizens who had put forward a European Citizens Initiative ("ECI"). It concerned the system for collecting signatures online, and the hosting on the Commission's servers of such systems, as well as the possibilities to modify an ECI after it had been submitted for registration. On the basis of the current legislation, the Ombudsman found that the Commission's position was reasonable. She therefore concluded that there had been no maladministration by the Commission. The Ombudsman commented that she trusted that the Commission would take her views into account when revising the ECI Regulation in 2015.

The Ombudsman suggested that, as soon as the preliminary assessment of a proposed initiative shows that the initiative does not fulfil the registration criteria, the Commission' could, if the organiser has informed it that it wishes to use its own online collection system, inform the organiser accordingly as rapidly as possible, in order to avoid the latter incurring unnecessary financial and organisational efforts.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1962/2013/JN against the European Commission

Tuesday | 20 January 2015

The case concerned the fairness of the recovery by the European Commission of part of its financial contribution to the complainant, a company, in the context of an EU funded project. The Commission admitted that it had made some errors in its calculation of the amount to be recovered, and apologised. It also waived part of its claim for "liquidated damages", considering that it would be disproportionate. In these circumstances, the Ombudsman considered that there was no on-going maladministration and took no further action.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1641/2012/(RA)OV against the European Commission

Wednesday | 24 September 2014

The complainant, a food business operator, wanted to have its product labelled with a health claim concerning appetite moderation and weight loss. It therefore submitted its health claim to the relevant national authorities which then submitted it to the Commission for assessment by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), under the authorisation procedure provided for in Regulation 1924/2006. However, due to a mistake by the national authorities, the health claim was withdrawn from the list sent to the Commission. The national authorities' subsequent request to the Commission to reinsert the health claim in the list submitted to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) was refused by the Commission. The complainant turned to the Ombudsman alleging that the Commission was wrong to refuse that request. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission's reasons for its refusal were correct. She concluded that there had been no maladministration by the Commission and closed the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2099/2012/JN against the European Commission

Tuesday | 08 July 2014

The complaint in this case was that the European Commission had behaved unfairly in seeking to recover some of the financial support for an EU-funded project. The complainant was a not-for-profit organisation and it said that it was not possible for it to meet the recovery terms as set by the Commission. Having considered the complaint, made in October 2012, the Ombudsman made a proposal to the Commission for a friendly resolution of the issue. The Ombudsman proposed that the Commission would extend the time period over which the money was to be repaid by the complainant and, also, that the Commission would consider waiving the requirement that the complainant put in place a guarantee to cover the amount to be repaid. The Commission accepted this proposal. In closing the case, the Ombudsman suggested to the parties that they should make direct contact to work out these settlement arrangements.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1184/2012/(ER)PMC against the European Commission

Tuesday | 15 April 2014

The complainant in the case at hand is an Italian airline company that, in December 2003, submitted a state aid complaint to the Commission concerning allegedly unlawful state aid received by one of its competitors for the flights operated from and to a regional airport in Italy. In September 2007, the Commission initiated the procedure foreseen in Article 108(2) TFEU against Italy. Unhappy with the Commission's delay in taking a decision concerning its state aid complaint, the complainant turned to the Ombudsman in June 2012.

In its opinion, the Commission argued that the length of the investigation was justified in the present case. It submitted that various factors have to be considered when assessing the present complaint, such as the complexity of the matter, the repeatedly changing scope of the investigation, the pending adoption of new Aviation Guidelines, as well as the need to commission various studies and translate several documents submitted in English into Italian.

In her assessment of the case, the Ombudsman was not convinced by the Commission's arguments and noted that it had been approximately ten years since the complainant submitted its state aid complaint. She therefore concluded that the Commission had failed to take a timely decision on the complainant's state aid complaint, and, consequently, made a draft recommendation. She asked the Commission to take a decision on the complainant's state aid complaint as rapidly as possible but in any event not later than 30 June 2014.

The Commission subsequently agreed with "the main points" of the Ombudsman's draft recommendations, but requested that the Ombudsman extend the deadline to complete its assessment to 31 October 2014, since that would allow it to complete its assessment on the basis of the new Aviation Guidelines, which were adopted on 20 February 2014. The Ombudsman was not however convinced by the reason which the Commission had invoked, considering that the Commission (i) had been dealing with the complainant's state aid complaint for approximately ten years, and (ii) had also a thorough knowledge of the Guidelines, since it drafted and adopted them itself. The Ombudsman thus regretted that the Commission did not take this opportunity to correct this instance of maladministration. This notwithstanding, the Ombudsman recognised that the prospect of a definitive outcome by the end of October 2014 represented some progress. In these circumstances and considering that, in its observations, the complainant did not seek compliance with the Ombudsman's recommended deadline of 30 June 2014, the Ombudsman saw no need for further inquiries. Considering also that the Commission had apologised to the complainant for the delay incurred, she closed the case.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 814/2012/(DK)TN against the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)

Thursday | 23 January 2014

The complainant applied for an EU recruitment competition, but was not invited to participate because his qualifications were not deemed sufficient. The complainant asked for a copy of the evaluation sheet concerning his qualifications. EPSO refused to give him a copy of the evaluation sheet. The complainant then turned to the Ombudsman.

EPSO first argued that the evaluation sheet was covered by the secrecy surrounding the proceedings of the selection board. The Ombudsman noted, however, that EPSO allowed candidates access to their evaluation sheets during a ten-day period after having been informed of their results. The Ombudsman could not see how the evaluation sheet, which was not previously considered to be secret, could become covered by the secrecy surrounding the proceedings of the selection board after that period. The Ombudsman therefore made a draft recommendation to EPSO, asking it to provide the complainant with a copy of the evaluation sheet.

EPSO accepted the Ombudsman's draft recommendation and provided the complainant with the requested evaluation sheet. EPSO also informed the Ombudsman that it now automatically provides candidates with information about the evaluation of their qualifications.

The Ombudsman thanked EPSO for its constructive and transparent approach to the matter.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 642/2012/TN against the European Medicines Agency (EMA)

Friday | 10 January 2014

The complaint was submitted by an EMA employee. She complained that the EMA wrongly required her to sell shares she held in a pharmaceutical company.

When she was recruited by the EMA, the complainant declared her financial interests, which included shares in a pharmaceutical company. The EMA did not consider these shareholdings to be problematic. In 2011, the EMA revised how it handled conflicts of interests and asked its entire staff, including the complainant, to sell her pharmaceutical shares. The complainant considered that the EMA was wrong.

In her decision, the Ombudsman stressed the importance of building and maintaining the public's trust in EU institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies. It is only by building and maintaining such trust that the EU public administration can function effectively. Given the EMA's particularly important role, which is the protection of public health, it is especially important that the EMA take all the necessary steps to build and maintain the public's trust in the EMA.

In the Ombudsman's view, the EMA's new implementing rules sought to give effect to an already existing legal requirement in the EU Staff Regulations on conflicts of interest. Accordingly, no EMA staff, be they existing staff or newly hired staff, should be permitted to hold shares in pharmaceutical companies.

The EMA did not, therefore, commit maladministration when it asked the complainant to sell her shares in a pharmaceutical company.