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Showing 1 - 20 of 96 results

Decision in case 1944/2019/DL on the transparency of Member State positions on a proposal from the European Commission for a regulation implementing the Eco-design Directive

Tuesday | 09 February 2021

The complainant made a request for public access to positions taken by Member States on an implementing regulation laying down eco-design requirements for electronic displays. The Commission identified four audio recordings, in which Member State civil servants debate amendments to this regulation, and a related email as falling within the scope of the request. The Commission refused access, arguing that disclosure would undermine its decision-making process and infringe the EU data protection rights of the civil servants.

The Ombudsman took the view that the Commission was wrong to refuse public access to the documents. Rather than undermining the decision-making process, disclosure would strengthen it, by enhancing its legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. Moreover, the Commission’s arguments that public access would give rise to a data infringement lacked merit. She thus recommended the Commission to disclose the documents.

The Commission has chosen to reject the Ombudsman’s recommendation. The Ombudsman is disappointed, especially given the importance of transparency in enabling citizens to hold Member States accountable for their positions taken on EU draft laws.

The Ombudsman confirms that the Commission’s refusal to grant access to the audio recordings and the email constitutes maladministration and closes the case on this basis.

Decision in case 1416/2019/VB on the inclusion by the European Commission of a project to construct a gas terminal in Croatia on the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) - cross-border energy infrastructure projects - and its subsequent decision to grant the project EU funding

Wednesday | 16 December 2020

The case concerned a project to construct a floating liquefied natural gas terminal on a Croatian island. The complainants were concerned that the European Commission had included the project on the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) - cross-border energy infrastructure projects - and granted it EU funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The complainants considered that the project did not meet the relevant criteria to be included on the PCI list and to receive EU funding.

The Ombudsman looked into the matter and did not find anything to suggest that the Commission committed a manifest error of assessment when including the project on the PCI list and granting it EU funding. As the Commission has now provided clear explanations addressing the arguments raised by the complainants, the Ombudsman finds that no further inquiries into this complaint are justified.  

Decision in case 1991/2019/KR on the European Commission’s action concerning sustainability assessment for gas projects on the current List of Projects of Common Interest

Tuesday | 17 November 2020

The case concerned the inclusion of gas projects on the EU’s 2019 list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs).These are cross-border energy infrastructure projects that should help achieve EU energy and climate policy objectives. The complainant was concerned that the sustainability of gas projects on that PCI list had not been satisfactorily assessed, as is required.

The Commission had already acknowledged that the sustainability assessment of candidate gas projects had been suboptimal due to a lack of data and inadequate methodologies. In the course of the inquiry, the Commission informed the Ombudsman that it is updating the criterion used for assessing the sustainability of projects that are candidates for inclusion on the next PCI list, which it will draw up in 2021.

Among other things, this update is expected to take into account the CO2 and methane balance, as well as efficiency impacts, in the assessment of projects. The indicator is expected to reflect the infrastructure’s expected impact on the overall greenhouse gas intensity of energy production in a given EU Member State and the emissions related to the functioning of the infrastructure itself.

The Ombudsman welcomes the fact that the Commission will ensure that this update is in place before the decision is taken on the next PCI list. The adoption date for the next PCI list is foreseen in the last quarter of 2021.

Given the EU’s objectives concerning climate change and sustainability, it is regrettable that gas projects were included on previous PCI lists, without having their sustainability properly assessed. This meant that it was not possible to rank them to identify the most sustainable ones. However, the Commission is taking the necessary action with the result that no further inquiries of the Ombudsman are justified at this point.