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Showing 1 - 20 of 166 results

Recommendation on how the European Defence Agency handled the applications of its former Chief Executive to take on senior positions at Airbus (OI/3/2021/KR)

Thursday | 15 July 2021

The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry on her own initiative into the decision of the European Defence Authority (EDA) to allow its former Chief Executive to take up two senior positions with Airbus, an aerospace company.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry also looked into how the EDA dealt with the fact that the former Chief Executive took up his new positions before the EDA had authorised him to do so, which is a breach of the EDA’s Staff Regulations.

The Ombudsman found that the conditions imposed on the former Chief Executive by the EDA in its authorising decision were insufficient when measured against the risks, and could not be monitored and enforced. There were also shortcomings in how the EDA assessed the risk of conflicts of interest.

The EDA should have instead applied stronger conditions and forbidden the former Chief Executive from taking up the position which gave rise to the greatest risk of conflict with the EDA’s legitimate interest. Not doing so amounted to maladministration by the EDA.

Based on these findings, the Ombudsman issued two recommendations:

(i) In future, the EDA should forbid its senior staff from taking up positions after their term of office where a clear conflict of interest arises with the legitimate interests of the EDA;

(ii) The EDA should set out the criteria for forbidding such moves, in order to give clarity to senior staff. Applicants for senior EDA posts should be informed of the criteria when they apply.

Decision on the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) refusal to give full public access to its annual report on the implementation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) of the EU in 2020 (case 786/2021/LM)

Thursday | 08 July 2021

The complainant sought public access to the annual report on the implementation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) of the EU in 2020.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) disclosed introductory and general statements from the report and redacted the remaining parts. It said that disclosure of the redacted parts could undermine the protection of the public interests as regards international relations and as regards defence and military matters.

The inspection of the document confirmed that the report contains highly sensitive information liable to jeopardise defence and military matters. The Ombudsman found that full disclosure of the information contained in the document would allow hostile third parties and entities to anticipate the resources the EU will be able to deploy and to improve their own capabilities in order to counteract the EU’s external political and strategic approach. The Ombudsman also found the EEAS’s reliance on the international relations exception to be convincing. Thus, the Ombudsman concluded that the EEAS was justified in refusing access and closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 163/2020/NH on the failure by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to reply to correspondence concerning alleged irregularities in a disciplinary investigation in an EU civilian mission

Friday | 04 June 2021

The case concerned the failure by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to reply to a letter concerning a disciplinary investigation that had taken place in 2017 in an EU civilian mission.

The Ombudsman found that the EEAS had repeatedly failed to reply to the complainant’s letters. Even if the EEAS considered that it could not reply on the substance, due to ongoing legal proceedings, it should have replied and explained this to the complainant. The failure to do so was maladministration.

Since, in the context of the inquiry, the EEAS explained why it believes it cannot give a substantive reply to the complainant, the Ombudsman did not make a recommendation to this end. She trusts, however, that the EEAS will take this finding on board going forward.

Decision in case 1839/2020/OAM on how the European Commission dealt with a request for public access to documents concerning the European Defence Industrial Development Programme

Monday | 08 March 2021

The case concerned the European Commission’s refusal to grant public access to documents concerning the evaluation of project proposals under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. The complainant sought public access to evaluations of how proposed projects complied with international law, in particular in view of the impact of defence technologies on human rights. The Commission identified various categories of documents that fell partially under the request. It refused to provide access, arguing that disclosure could undermine the public interest as regards defence and military matters and the protection of commercial interests.

The Ombudsman inspected a sample of the documents and found that the Commission’s decision to refuse access was reasonable, given the specific nature of the documents. She thus closed the inquiry, finding no maladministration. However, she noted the importance of reassuring the public that the Commission carefully examines whether EU-funded defence projects comply with international law. Given that the projects cover areas like drone technology, maritime surveillance, and defensive capabilities for military end-users, the public should be confident that a rigorous assessment has been conducted. To that end, she welcomes the fact that for the upcoming European Defence Fund 2021-2027 an ethics assessment is envisaged. She encourages the Commission to conduct this assessment as transparently as possible.