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Decision on the own initiative inquiry into how the European Commission monitors EU Structural and Investment funds to ensure they are used to promote the right of persons with disabilities to independent living and inclusion in the community (OI/2/2021/MHZ)

Wednesday | 27 April 2022

The inquiry concerned how the European Commission monitors that Member States use EU Structural and Investment (ESI) funds to promote the right of persons with disabilities and older persons to independent living and inclusion in the community (deinstitutionalisation), and whether the Commission applies sanctions if they do not.

In the course of the inquiry, the Ombudsman received contributions from national ombudsmen and civil society organisations.  

The Ombudsman found that the Commission could provide clearer guidance about the need to promote deinstitutionalisation in the context of the use of ESI funds. She also considered that the Commission could take steps to improve the monitoring of ESI-funded activities, and that it should take a more proactive approach to enforcement, particularly where concerns are raised that ESI-funded activities are at odds with the obligation to promote deinstitutionalisation. The Ombudsman also pointed to the need to be particularly vigilant in relation to funds deployed under the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry, making ten suggestions aimed at improving the guidance issued by the Commission and the monitoring process. She emphasised the need for the Commission to move quickly, given the additional funding programmes created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recent changes to the rules in place.

The Ombudsman will consider returning to this issue in future, to assess progress.