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Showing 1 - 20 of 70 results

Decision in case 906/2020/VB on a request made by the European Commission to the members of the EU Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directive (NADEG) concerning a proposed restriction on lead gunshot in wetland areas

Thursday | 17 December 2020

The case concerned an information paper sent by the European Commission to the members of the Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directives (NADEG). In the paper, the Commission asked NADEG members to contact their national authorities to raise awareness about and encourage them to vote in favour of a draft Commission Regulation, which included new restrictions on lead gunshot in wetland areas.

The complainant, an MEP, contended that, in making this request, the Commission was acting beyond its mandate by seeking to influence, through the members of NADEG, a vote on a draft implementing act.

The Ombudsman notes that the Commission has a legitimate interest in seeing its regulatory proposals approved. That having been said, she considers that, in this case, the Commission’s request went beyond what is appropriate to promote its legitimate interest.

The Ombudsman has no evidence that this is a standard Commission practice. As such, and given that the relevant vote has taken place, the Ombudsman finds it sufficient to make the Commission aware of her views on the matter and that no further inquiries are justified.

Decision in case 154/2020/DL on how the Research Executive Agency dealt with a recruitment procedure carried out in the context of an EU-funded project under the Horizon 2020 programme

Monday | 09 November 2020

The case concerned a recruitment procedure organised by the University of Ljubljana as part of an EU-funded project, under the Horizon 2020 programme. The complainant claimed that irregularities occurred in the recruitment procedure, and reported this to the Research Executive Agency (REA), which is responsible for the implementation of the programme. Dissatisfied with how REA dealt with his complaint, he turned to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman found that REA investigated the issue and advised the university on steps to take to address certain shortcomings it had identified. The university followed REA’s advice.

The Ombudsman therefore found that REA dealt appropriately with the matter and closed the case, finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 563/2020/MMO on the non-renewal of an employment contract with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)

Wednesday | 28 October 2020

The case concerned the non-renewal of the complainant’s employment contract after he had worked for 11 years at Europol.

The Ombudsman noted that there is no obligation on EU agencies to renew fixed-term employment contracts. EU agencies also enjoy wide discretion as regards their internal organisation, which includes defining the conditions for contract renewal. In this case, Europol followed the applicable rules and there is no indication that it committed a manifest error of assessment nor that it abused its power by not renewing the complainant’s contract.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.

Decision in case 784/2019/JN on the European Commission´s decision to reject certain costs in the context of an EU-funded project supporting education in Somalia

Tuesday | 13 October 2020

The case concerned the European Commission´s decision to reject almost EUR 50 000 in the context of an EU-funded project supporting education in Somalia.

The Ombudsman made the preliminary finding that the Commission´s decision was not fair. She made a corresponding proposal for a solution.

The Commission disagreed with the Ombudsman´s proposal and provided additional explanations for its position. The grant agreement, it said, contains a list of non-eligible costs including salary costs of the personnel of national administrations, at issue here. Declaring the costs eligible, although they are clearly ineligible, could create a precedent that the rules in question can be circumvented. In light of these and further explanations, the Ombudsman reached the conclusion that no further inquiries were justified. The grant agreement, read as a whole, supports the Commission´s position sufficiently.

However, the Ombudsman considered it regrettable that an organisation that successfully carried out a project in good faith and incurred the costs in question, should find itself in this situation. She suggested that the Commission consider how it could improve the clarity of the information in its ‘grant agreements’ with entities selected to carry out EU-funded projects, to avoid similar cases arising in the future.

Decision in case 1315/2018/LM on how the European Commission handled a complaint about how the national agency of Cyprus manages the Erasmus+ Youth Programme

Wednesday | 20 November 2019

The complainant is the president of two organisations that run Erasmus+ youth programmes in Cyprus. He complained to the European Commission about the behaviour of the Cypriot national agency, in charge of implementing the Erasmus+ programme at national level. In his view, the Commission did not investigate his complaint properly and he therefore turned to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman found that the European Commission had handled the complaints reasonably and in line with its role under the Erasmus+ Regulation. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 765/2018/PB about the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and its handling of two recruitment procedures

Wednesday | 20 November 2019

The case concerned the way in which the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) conducted two staff recruitment procedures.

The Ombudsman found that, by not applying all the assessment criteria when assessing the applications, Cedefop had committed maladministration in one of the procedures. In light of the Court of Auditor’s recent call for immediate corrective action by Cedefop regarding its staff recruitment procedures and the fact that Cedefop’s management now seems intent on addressing the issues in question, the Ombudsman does not find it necessary to make a recommendation to Cedefop arising from her finding of maladministration.  

The Ombudsman, however, asked Cedefop to inform her within three months of this decision of all the measures it has recently taken, or plans to take, to improve its recruitment procedures. To promote public trust in its recruitment procedures, Cedefop should publish these measures on its website.

Decision in case 798/2018/JAP on the decision by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency to recover funds from a company that worked on a project under the Marco Polo programme

Wednesday | 09 October 2019

The case concerned the decision by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) to partially recover funds granted to a company that carried out a project to promote rail transport under the Marco Polo programme.

An investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) found irregularities with the project, in particular, concerning the costs of train drivers and other subcontracted services. OLAF recommended that INEA recover more than EUR 87 000 from the company.

The complainant challenged OLAF’s findings and provided INEA with additional explanations. However, INEA considered that these explanations did not call OLAF’s findings into question.

Based on her inquiry, the Ombudsman considered INEA’s decision to be reasonable. She therefore closed the case.

Decision in case 1501/2019/MIG on the European Parliament’s decision to declare inadmissible requests to verify that two ‘European political parties’ comply with core EU values

Tuesday | 17 September 2019

The case before the Ombudsman concerned a decision by the European Parliament to declare inadmissible two requests from an NGO to initiate a procedure to verify if two political parties in Parliament should continue to enjoy the status of ‘European political parties’. A ‘European political party’ enjoys certain benefits, including funding.

An independent ‘Authority’, appointed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, is empowered to grant a political party the status of ‘European political party’ provided the party meets certain conditions. One of these conditions is that the party complies with the core values of the EU, namely respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

Parliament can decide, either on its own initiative, or in response to a request from a ‘group of citizens’, to ask the independent Authority to verify if a European political party continues to comply with these core values. Parliament’s Rules of Procedures state that such requests can be submitted by a group of at least 50 EU citizens.

The complainant provided Parliament with a list of persons who it claimed supported its two requests. Parliament informed it that, in accordance with its Rules of Procedures, these persons should sign the requests. When the complainant did not provide signed requests, Parliament informed the complainant that the requests were inadmissible.

The Ombudsman found that Parliament was entitled to ask the complainant to provide it with signed requests. Since the complainant did not provide the signed requests, despite a number of reminders, the Ombudsman found no maladministration by Parliament.