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Commission's legislative proposals in the area of road safety

Summary of the decision on complaint 875/2011/JF against the European Commission

The complainant is a British motorcyclist, who alleged that the Commission failed properly to reply to his correspondence. In summary, that correspondence: (i) contested the quality of a survey that had been conducted before the Commission made a legislative proposal in the area of road safety, and (ii) requested access to a number of Commission documents in support of that proposal. When that institution failed to reply to the complainant's criticism and to provide him with the requested documents, he turned to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman's inquiry revealed that the Commission had wrongly discontinued correspondence with the complainant. The Ombudsman invited the Commission to consider providing guidance to its staff as regards the circumstances in which the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour may legitimately be invoked to discontinue correspondence.

The Ombudsman also found that the Commission was wrong to have conducted the survey in question in English only. This situation resulted in the overall number of replies being necessarily limited. In light of the Commission’s follow-up to his conclusions in case 640/2011/AN, the Ombudsman encouraged the Commission to acknowledge in the present case that it would have been better not to have confined the survey to the English language and to consider whether there are any lessons to be drawn for the future.

It also became apparent that what the complainant ultimately sought was a change in legislation affecting him as a motorcyclist. In particular, he disagreed that certain measures proposed by the Commission, that is to say, fitting motorcycles with a number of technical warning devices and carrying out random roadside inspections, would reduce accidents. The Ombudsman explained that the merits of European Union legislation fall outside his mandate and invited the complainant to consider submitting his arguments to the European Parliament in a petition.

Finally, the Ombudsman noted that, during the inquiry, the Commission had assured him that it was prepared to submit the complainant's views to its expert groups working on the relevant legislative proposals. The Ombudsman therefore invited the Commission to confirm to him that it had indeed followed up those assurances and had forwarded the complainant's views on those proposals to its expert groups. With the actions mentioned above, the Ombudsman closed the case.