Showing 1 - 20 of 87 results
The transparency of Member State positions on a proposal by the European Commission for a regulation implementing the Eco-design Directive
Thursday | 11 February 2021
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.
Reply of the European Commission to the European Ombudsman’s recommendation regarding the transparency of Member State deliberations on a European Commission proposal for a regulation implementing the Eco-design Directive
Monday | 04 January 2021
The European Commission’s decision to include a gas terminal project in Croatia on the list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) - cross-border energy infrastructure projects - and subsequently grant the project EU funding
Friday | 18 December 2020
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.
The European Commission’s failure to inform the complainant about the state of play of an infringement complaint (CHAP(2018)03929) concerning the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project
Friday | 04 December 2020
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.
The European Commission’s refusal to grant public access to documents regarding the origin and amount of used cooking oil reported to the European Commission by all voluntary certification schemes for biofuels sustainability under the Renewable Energy Directive
Thursday | 24 September 2020
The European Commission’s alleged failure to reply to the complainant's correspondence on his clean energy proposal
Friday | 31 July 2020
The European Commission’s alleged failure to take action on an infringement complaint and to reply to the complainant’s correspondence
Friday | 31 July 2020
Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case 1944/2019/DL on the transparency of Member State deliberations on a Commission proposal for a regulation implementing the Eco-design Directive
Monday | 27 July 2020
The complaint concerns the refusal by the Commission to grant public access to four audio recordings, in which Member State civil servants discuss a Commission proposal for a regulation implementing the Eco-design Directive, and an email relating to the same discussion. The Commission considered that disclosing the recordings and email would undermine its decision-making and infringe the EU data protection rights of the persons heard on the recording.
EU access to documents rules apply to audio and video recordings. The Ombudsman considers that public access to these recordings (and any other documents produced during the legislative process) ensures that EU citizens can better understand why legislation is adopted, can take part in the debate on the merits of EU legislation, and can hold the EU institutions, and their Member States, to account for the legislative choices they make on behalf of citizens.
The Ombudsman does not agree that public access would undermine the Commission’s decision-making. Rather, access would strengthen the decision-making, by enhancing its legitimacy in the eyes of citizens.
The Ombudsman considers that the Commission’s arguments that access would give rise to an infringement of the data protection rights of national officials (whose voices can be heard on the recordings) lack merit. Refusing access would be justified only if legitimate interests of the officials would outweigh the important public need served by granting access (namely, the need to give greater legitimacy to the legislative process). However, the Commission has not identified any legitimate interests that might be affected by public access to the recording.
The Ombudsman therefore considers that the refusal to grant public access to the recordings was maladministration and makes a recommendation that they should be released.
Complainant's comments on the European Commission's reply on how the European Commission ensures that the sustainability and climate impact of proposed energy ‘projects of common interest’ is assessed
Tuesday | 30 June 2020
Reply from the European Commission to the letter from the European Ombudsman in the inquiry into the alleged failure to carry out a sustainability/climate assessment for all existing fossil fuel projects on the list of Projects of Common Interest (1991/2019/KR)
Thursday | 11 June 2020
How the European Commission dealt with comments from an 'interested party' about proposed national technical rules under the Technical Regulations Information Systems (TRIS) database
Tuesday | 07 April 2020
Decision in case 1611/2019/KR on the Council’s refusal to grant public access to documents relating to the ‘Nord Stream 2’ gas pipeline
Friday | 27 March 2020
The case concerned requests for public access to documents concerning a recommendation made by the Commission to the Council to give the Commission a mandate to negotiate with Russia on the operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Nord Stream 2 is a controversial second pipeline, currently under construction, to bring Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany. It is expected to become operational by 2021.
The Council argued that releasing the documents would undermine international relations. The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry and inspected the documents in question. While recognising the strong need for democratic and public scrutiny of this project, the Ombudsman acknowledges that, under EU law, the Council may determine that public access to the documents, at the time of the request, would undermine international relations.
The Ombudsman closed the inquiry by concluding that there was no maladministration by the Council.
The Council of the European Union’s refusal to grant public access to documents relating to the ‘Nord Stream 2’ gas pipeline
Friday | 27 March 2020
The European Commission’s alleged failure to take a timely decision on an infringement complaint (CHAP(2018)03929) concerning the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project
Wednesday | 18 March 2020
European Commission's follow up reply to the European Ombudsman's inquiry on how the European Commission dealt with comments submitted under the notification procedure set up by the EU Single Market Transparency Directive
Friday | 28 February 2020
How the European Commission ensures that the sustainability and climate impact of proposed energy ‘projects of common interest’ are assessed
Thursday | 13 February 2020
Letter from the European Ombudsman to the European Commission opening the inquiry into the alleged failure to carry out a sustainability/climate assessment for all existing fossil fuel projects on the list of Projects of Common Interest
Monday | 10 February 2020