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Showing 1 - 20 of 174 results

Decision in case OI/2/2020/NH on the European Anti-Fraud Office’s refusal to grant public access to documents related to its investigation of possible links between Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and a family member of the Syrian President

Wednesday | 29 July 2020

The case concerned how the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) handled a request by a journalist for public access to documents about an OLAF investigation into a tobacco product manufacturer and its possible links to a family member of the Syrian President.

OLAF invoked the general presumption that public access to the requested documents would be particularly detrimental to its ability to fulfil its mission to fight fraud in the public interest. OLAF therefore concluded, without assessing each document individually, that access to the documents could not be granted.

The Ombudsman found that OLAF had correctly applied the EU rules on public access to documents. After reviewing the final OLAF report in this case, the Ombudsman found that only one short section was relevant to the complainant’s request.  

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with a finding that there had not been maladministration by OLAF. She nevertheless suggested to OLAF that it assess the relevant section of the report and consider granting public access to it.

Decision in case 1235/2019/JF on the European Commission’s handling of concerns about an EU co-funded project in Malawi

Thursday | 26 March 2020

The case was about a project developed by a local organisation and co-financed by the EU in Africa.

The complainant raised concerns with the Commission about the local organisation. The Commission then contracted an auditor, who made a number of recommendations to improve the organisation’s governance. The complainant then turned to the Ombudsman alleging that the Commission had failed to ensure that the organisation implemented the auditor’s recommendations.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission had in fact followed up on how the organisation implemented the recommendations and that there was no maladministration. She invited the Commission to update the complainant on the implementation of the recommendations.

Decision in case 193/2020/EWM on the European Commission’s refusal to grant public access to a legal opinion related to an alleged conflict of interest in Czechia

Wednesday | 25 March 2020

The case concerned the Commission’s refusal to grant public access to an opinion of the legal service related to an alleged conflict of interest of the Czech prime minister.

The complainant considered that there was an overriding public interest in disclosure. In his view, citizens need to be aware of the content of the legal opinion, so that they can form their own independent view of the actions of the parties involved and the credibility of the arguments put forward.

The Ombudsman found that, at this stage, the public interest in disclosing the legal opinion is does not override the public interest in protecting the Commission’s ability to conduct audits aimed at ensuring that EU funds are protected and that the rule of law is respected. The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 724/2019/MIG on the European Commission’s refusal to grant full public access to a document relating to audits of potential conflicts of interest in Czechia

Wednesday | 25 March 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to a letter of the European Commission to the Czech authorities concerning audits in relation to potential conflicts of interest in Czechia. The Commission refused to make public the letter arguing that disclosure would put the successful completion of the audits at risk.

The Ombudsman considered that the Commission should give partial access to the letter, thus reassuring and confirming to the public that it was taking appropriate action regarding the protection of EU funds.

The Commission accepted this solution and granted the complainant access to those paragraphs of the letter which the Ombudsman considered could be released. The Ombudsman finds that, by doing so, the Commission resolved the complaint. She therefore closed her inquiry.

Decision in case 175/2019/PL on how the European Investment Bank handled a complaint about a project it financed in Spain

Monday | 23 March 2020

The case concerned the time it was taking the European Investment Bank (EIB) to investigate a complaint about irregularities in a project called “Castilla y León Climate Change”, which the Bank financed.

In the course of the inquiry, the EIB informed the Ombudsman that it had concluded the investigation.

The Ombudsman finds that the time it took the EIB to investigate the matter was reasonable considering the complexity of the issue. Thus, the Ombudsman closes the inquiry finding that there was no maladministration.