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Showing 1 - 20 of 308 results

Decision in case 1564/2020/TE on the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority’s refusal to grant public access to the votes and debates of its Board of Supervisors on draft regulatory technical standards

Tuesday | 18 May 2021

The case concerned the refusal of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) to grant public access to the voting results and related reasoning concerning its Board of Supervisors’ decision on a draft regulatory technical standard on packaged retail and insurance-based investment products.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and came to the preliminary assessment that draft regulatory technical standards, as adopted by EIOPA’s Board of Supervisors, and any documents related to their adoption, constitute important elements of the process for the adoption of the ensuing delegated act by the European Commission. In this context, the Ombudsman was not convinced by the arguments put forward by EIOPA to refuse public access and she took the preliminary view that EIOPA should release the requested information.

EIOPA positively replied to the Ombudsman’s preliminary assessment. EIOPA committed to disclosing the requested information and to ensuring that future minutes of its Board of Supervisors contain appropriate information on Board members’ votes concerning decisions on legislative documents. The Ombudsman welcomed EIOPA’s reply and the steps taken, and closed the inquiry.

Decision in case 763/2020/DL on the European Commission's failure to make public proactively all 'confirmatory decisions' it takes following requests for review of public access to documents requests

Tuesday | 06 April 2021

The case concerned the European Commission’s decision not to publish proactively the final decisions it takes on requests for access to documents. The complainant considered that proactive disclosure of these ‘confirmatory decisions’ is crucial for public understanding of how the Commission implements the EU rules on access to documents.

In the course of the inquiry, the Commission said it was considering the proactive publication of its confirmatory decisions. It also committed to disclosing additional information on its new online ‘access to documents portal’, to facilitate how users can search for documents that have already been disclosed. In light of these commitments, the Ombudsman decided to close the case. However, she is making two suggestions for the Commission to consider, with a view to improving the ‘access to documents portal’ over time.

Decision in strategic inquiry OI/4/2020/TE on the transparency of decision making by the Council of the EU during the COVID-19 crisis

Wednesday | 24 March 2021

The Ombudsman opened a ‘strategic inquiry’ on her own initiative to look into the transparency of decision making by the Council of the EU during the COVID-19 crisis. The Treaties require the EU institutions, including the Council, to operate openly. In particular, they require the Council to meet in public when considering and voting on draft legislative acts.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of restrictions on travel and gatherings, the Council had to adapt its operating and decision-making procedures to ensure institutional continuity. To this end, the Council decided to derogate temporarily from its Rules of Procedure. In addition to organising virtual meetings and other changes, the Council currently takes most decisions by ‘written procedure’.

The Ombudsman assessed how, in the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, the Council ensured it complied with its obligations to operate openly.

The Ombudsman found that national ministers meet by videoconference to discuss the legislative and non-legislative files that are subsequently adopted by written procedure. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, these remote meetings were not held in public, and very little information about them was made public. This was regrettable. As of July 2020, however, the Council changed its practices. It began web streaming certain remote meetings of ministers, and made public relevant documentation. The Ombudsman welcomes this important change. She suggests that the Council make public documentation regarding all ministerial videoconferences that took place at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, between March and June 2020.

The Ombudsman also found that, at the outset of her inquiry, there was no information publicly available on how, in the absence of in-person meetings, the Council’s preparatory bodies continued their discussions on legislative and non-legislative files. As the COVID-19 crisis continued, the Council took steps to make these remote meetings of national civil servants more transparent, notably by publishing agendas ahead of such meetings. The Ombudsman welcomes the steps taken. She considers, however, that more could be done and is making three further suggestions for improvement to that effect.

Decision in case 1026/2020/MAS concerning the failure by the European Commission to finalise an updated 'sustainability impact assessment' before concluding the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations

Wednesday | 17 March 2021

The case concerned the European Commission’s failure to finalise a ‘sustainability impact assessment’ (SIA) before concluding the negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, a South American trade bloc.

The complainants contended that, by not finalising the assessment, the Commission disregarded its own guidelines on SIAs and breached EU law. The Commission acknowledged that, in general, it would be preferable for SIAs to be finalised before the conclusion of trade negotiations, but argued that there is no legal requirement to do so.

The Ombudsman took the view that, while it was impossible to foresee the dynamics of the negotiations, the SIA in this case has taken much longer to finalise than anticipated. Specifically, the Commission should have ensured that the SIA was finalised before the conclusion of the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission’s failure to ensure that the SIA was finalised in good time constituted maladministration. Considering that the negotiations have been concluded and that the Commission appears set to finalise the SIA process imminently, she takes the view that it would serve no purpose to make a recommendation. However, she urges the Commission to ensure that, in the future, SIAs are completed prior to the conclusion of trade negotiations.