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Showing 1 - 20 of 119 results

Decision in case 784/2019/JN on the European Commission´s decision to reject certain costs in the context of an EU-funded project supporting education in Somalia

Tuesday | 13 October 2020

The case concerned the European Commission´s decision to reject almost EUR 50 000 in the context of an EU-funded project supporting education in Somalia.

The Ombudsman made the preliminary finding that the Commission´s decision was not fair. She made a corresponding proposal for a solution.

The Commission disagreed with the Ombudsman´s proposal and provided additional explanations for its position. The grant agreement, it said, contains a list of non-eligible costs including salary costs of the personnel of national administrations, at issue here. Declaring the costs eligible, although they are clearly ineligible, could create a precedent that the rules in question can be circumvented. In light of these and further explanations, the Ombudsman reached the conclusion that no further inquiries were justified. The grant agreement, read as a whole, supports the Commission´s position sufficiently.

However, the Ombudsman considered it regrettable that an organisation that successfully carried out a project in good faith and incurred the costs in question, should find itself in this situation. She suggested that the Commission consider how it could improve the clarity of the information in its ‘grant agreements’ with entities selected to carry out EU-funded projects, to avoid similar cases arising in the future.

Decision in case 842/2020/KR on the European Commission’s decision to suspend a company that offers courses on the Erasmus+ ‘School Education Gateway’ platform

Thursday | 08 October 2020

The case concerned the ‘School Education Gateway’, an online platform for school education that is funded by Erasmus+, the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. The complainant is the owner and manager of an education and training provider, which offered courses on the platform.  

The European Commission, which is responsible for the programme, suspended the complainant’s company after it had established that the complainant’s company had repeatedly violated the platform’s terms and conditions.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and found that the Commission’s actions were reasonable and proportionate. She therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 591/2020/DL on the European Commission’s refusal to provide access to documents relating to a Spanish hotel and catering management school

Wednesday | 01 July 2020

The case concerned the refusal by the European Commission to grant public access to documents relating to a request for funding from a Spanish hotel and catering management school.

The Commission identified six documents as falling under the scope of the request. The documents concerned project proposals submitted by the school following calls organised by the European Commission in the context of the Erasmus+ programme. Having examined the documents, the Commission refused access to the documents based on the protection of the privacy and integrity of the individuals involved and the commercial interests of the school and its partner organisations.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the documents contained personal data and commercially confidential information. There was no overriding public interest which might justify the release of that commercially confidential information. The Ombudsman thus concluded that the decision was in line with the applicable rules on public access to documents and closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 1766/2019/JAP on how the Research Executive Agency dealt with a request to accommodate the needs of a researcher with a severe medical condition, who was selected to carry out a research project

Thursday | 26 March 2020

The complainant is a researcher, who was selected to carry out research for an EU-funded project at a university in a different country from his country of residence. The Research Executive Agency (REA) and the university signed a grant agreement to implement the project.

Before the project was due to start, the complainant was diagnosed with a chronic illness. As a result, he asked if he could carry out the research at another research institute, closer to where he was living, so he could work on the project without disrupting his medical treatment.

The REA initially declined this request, which it considered incompatible with the rules of the grant agreement. Following further correspondence with the complainant and the university, the REA offered a different interpretation of the rules, which the complainant viewed as inconsistent.

In the course of this inquiry, the Ombudsman’s inquiry team proposed a solution to the situation. As a result, the REA approved the request to transfer the grant agreement to a research institute closer to where the complainant was living, and allowed him to work part time. The Ombudsman was pleased to note that a solution had been found and closed the case.

Decision in case 2164/2019/MIG on the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s refusal of public access to its central test question database

Monday | 10 February 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) central database of test questions used to test the theoretical knowledge of persons seeking to obtain a pilot’s licence.

EASA refused to give the complainant access to the test questions.

The Ombudsman found that public access to the test questions would undermine the process of assessing the knowledge of persons seeking to obtain a pilot’s licence. There is thus a strong public interest in the non-disclosure of the requested test questions. EASA’s refusal to grant access was thus justified. She therefore closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 1315/2018/LM on how the European Commission handled a complaint about how the national agency of Cyprus manages the Erasmus+ Youth Programme

Wednesday | 20 November 2019

The complainant is the president of two organisations that run Erasmus+ youth programmes in Cyprus. He complained to the European Commission about the behaviour of the Cypriot national agency, in charge of implementing the Erasmus+ programme at national level. In his view, the Commission did not investigate his complaint properly and he therefore turned to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman found that the European Commission had handled the complaints reasonably and in line with its role under the Erasmus+ Regulation. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 303/2019/NH on the European Commission’s assessment of academic qualifications when selecting trainees

Monday | 07 October 2019

The case concerned how the European Commission assesses academic qualifications when it selects its trainees. The Commission rejected the complainant’s application due to “inadequate academic qualifications” as he had obtained his bachelor’s degree in two years instead of three. The Commission explained that it rejected all applicants with less than three years of studies.

In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the Commission admitted the complainant to the selection procedure for the traineeship programme. The Commission also changed its practice for assessing academic qualifications. It now accepts all applicants who have a three-year degree obtained in less than three years.

The Ombudsman closed the case as settled and welcomed the Commission’s decision to change its practice. She suggested to the Commission that it update its traineeship website to reflect better the new practice for assessing academic qualifications.