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Decision in case 386/2016/MDC on the Commission's alleged wrongful decision to close an infringement complaint
Vendredi | 15 décembre 2017
The case concerned the European Commission’s failure to reply to correspondence sent in the context of an infringement complaint against Italy and its alleged wrongful decision to close the infringement complaint.
The Ombudsman inquired into the issues and found that, through the reply which the Commission sent to the complainant in the course of this inquiry, it had provided a cogent and comprehensive reply. The Commission had therefore settled the first issue. In particular, the Ombudsman found that the Commission had given a sufficient explanation for its decision not to re-open infringement proceedings in this case. Therefore, with regard to the second issue, she considered that there was no maladministration.
The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry.
Decision in case 668/2016/EIS on the failure by the European Commission to provide proper replies to a complainant about his concerns related to a state aid issue in Germany
Mercredi | 06 décembre 2017
The case concerned the European Commission’s failure to provide proper replies to a complainant who had complained about a state aid issue in Germany. The complainant took the view that Germany was violating the EU state aid rules because of its new funding scheme for public broadcasting. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that, since the Commission ultimately provided an adequate reply, there was no maladministration.
Lundi | 10 octobre 2016
Decision in case 949/2016/PL on the European Commission’s failure to answer correspondence and to take a decision in an infringement complaint within a reasonable period of time
Lundi | 03 octobre 2016
Summary of the query Q6/2016/EIS from the Ombudsman of Malta concerning the transposition of relevant EU rules on road safety and access to environmental information into the national legal order in Malta
Vendredi | 19 août 2016
Decision in case 478/2014/PMC concerning the European Commission's bilingual visual identity used in its press conference room
Jeudi | 31 mars 2016
The case concerned the Commission's visual identity logo, used in its Brussels press conference room since 2012. In the complainant's view, the exclusive use of English and French in that visual identity logo constitutes discrimination on the basis of language.
The present language regime of the EU includes the right of each citizen to communicate with the EU's institutions in his or her own language and the corresponding right to receive a reply in that language. The principles governing this language regime apply also to other forms of communication, such as communication through publications and websites. Any differentiation in the use of languages in such circumstances should be objectively justified. As to whether there is an objective justification in the present case, the Ombudsman agrees that it is technically not possible to present the term "European Commission" in 24 languages on a television screen, either below, alongside or behind a speaker.
As to whether the Commission could have chosen more than two languages, the Ombudsman finds that it was reasonable for the Commission to have chosen just two languages. The choice of the number of languages to use comes down to a judgement call as to whether more than two languages would clutter the visual image in an unacceptable way. The fact that other combinations of languages may also be reasonable choices does not imply that the choice of English and French was not reasonable.
The Ombudsman considers that the policy chosen by the Commission was objectively justified. She thus concluded that the Commission's introduction of a new visual identity logo in its Brussels press conference room did not constitute maladministration.
Decision in case 25/2013/ANA concerning the European Commission's alleged failure to ensure that Greek hospitals comply with EU public procurement law
Lundi | 21 mars 2016
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 403/2014/MHZ against the European Commission
Mardi | 01 mars 2016
The case concerned the European Commission's handling of an infringement complaint regarding the use of EU Cohesion funds in Poland in the field of infrastructure and the environment. The complainant, an eco-farmer, is concerned about the protection of the local environment and the appropriate use of EU funds. He submitted an infringement complaint to the Commission arguing that the public consultations process in Poland was not being conducted satisfactorily. He complained that the Commission had closed his complaint without proper examination of his submission.
The Ombudsman inquired into the complaint and suggested that the Commission should review its approach to verifying whether the Member States fully comply with the public consultations requirements in the case of projects supported by EU funds. She also suggested that the complainant's supporting evidence attached to his particular complaint to the Ombudsman be examined from the environmental perspective and that the Commission's Representation in Poland organise a meeting with the complainant to help him to understand the Commission's views more fully while allowing the Commission to better understand the complainant's concerns. The Ombudsman was satisfied with the Commission's reply to the first two suggestions. In the case of the third suggestion (a meeting with the complainant), the Ombudsman accepted the Commission's view that such a meeting might not be an efficient use of resources in relation to complaints already finalised; but she encouraged the Commission to keep open this possibility in the event of the complainant raising new issues in the future. The Ombudsman closed the case on this basis.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1731/2013/PHP concerning the European Commission's handling of three alleged cases of State Aid to football clubs in Spain and a related request for access to documents
Jeudi | 11 février 2016
This case concerned the European Commission's handling of information submitted by the complainant, alleging three cases of unlawful State aid granted to Spanish football clubs. The complainant argued that the Commission had failed to decide within a reasonable time whether it should open a formal investigation into the allegedly illegal State aid. Since, in the complainant's view, the Commission was failing to take action, the complainant made a request for access to some documents related to two of these cases. The Commission refused to give access on grounds of the protection of the purpose of the investigations.
The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration on either issue by the Commission. She has therefore closed the case.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1983/2013/LP on the European Commission's investigation into an alleged breach of Regulation (EC) 1008/2008
Lundi | 18 janvier 2016
The case concerned an alleged failure by the European Commission to investigate the issuing by the [MS] authorities of an operating licence to [an other] airline. The complainant (Ryanair airline) argued that the fact that [an airline] Air was ultimately controlled by a company based in a third country was in breach of Regulation (EC) 1008/2008. Therefore, it asked the Commission to examine its ownership structure. The Commission requested all the necessary information from the [MS] authorities and concluded that there was no evidence of an infringement of the Regulation.
The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission had properly complied with the Regulation and had thoroughly examined the case. The Ombudsman thus concluded that there was no maladministration by the Commission.
Decision in case 1977/2013/MDC on the European Commission’s assessment of an infringement complaint concerning restrictions to freedom of movement within the EU internal market
Vendredi | 25 septembre 2015
The complainant in this case, a Luxembourgish citizen, was excluded from competing for a post in France on the grounds that she is not a French national. The post in question was that of a non-presiding judge who was to represent the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at the French asylum Court. The complainant put it to the European Commission that the limiting of the post to French nationals appeared to be a breach of the provisions of EU law on the free movement of workers. When the Commission took the view that there was no infringement of EU law, the complainant contacted the Ombudsman.
The Commission took the view that an exception to the right of free movement of workers applied. This exception applies in the case of employment in the public service and is provided for in Article 45(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Commission acknowledged that a decision in this issue required a concrete assessment of the nature of the tasks and responsibilities of the non-presiding judge and it argued that it had made such an assessment. The Ombudsman noted that, as part of this assessment, the Commission had not contacted the French authorities in order to obtain further information about the post in question. The Ombudsman's initial proposal, therefore, was that the Commission should review its assessment of the infringement complaint and she suggested that the Commission should consult the French authorities. In replying to this proposal, the Commission maintained that it had sufficient information available to it when deciding the issue and that it was therefore unnecessary to contact the French authorities. Having considered its detailed reply to the proposal, the Ombudsman accepted that in this case the Commission did have sufficient information on which to base its decision. She therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration on the part of the Commission.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2093/2012/EIS against the European Commission
Jeudi | 09 juillet 2015
The case concerned the European Commission's handling of an infringement complaint related to air passenger rights. The complainant's flight from London to Sofia was cancelled because of heavy snowfall and he was re-routed via Munich. However, his flight was late arriving in Munich and he missed his connecting flight. The complainant thus had to spend the night there, and was not offered a hotel room by his carrier. Following contacts with the authorities in the UK and Germany, he submitted an infringement complaint to the Commission, alleging that the UK authorities were acting contrary to the relevant EU rules on air passenger rights.
The Commission argued that the problems were caused by 'extraordinary circumstances' which meant that, in line with the relevant EU Regulation, the complainant was not entitled to cash compensation. It subsequently also discontinued correspondence with the complainant.
The Ombudsman accepted the Commission's position as regards the existence of 'extraordinary circumstances' related to the snowfall. Thus, the complainant did not have a right to cash compensation. However, the complainant did have a "right to care" and should have been provided with hotel accommodation by the carrier. Given the carrier's failure to provide hotel accommodation, the Ombudsman believed that there had been an infringement of the duty of care. For this reason, the Ombudsman found the Commission's view, that there had not been an infringement of the duty of care, to be unconvincing.
The Ombudsman recommended to the Commission that, in dealing with such infringement complaints in future, it should take proper account of the carrier's duty of care to air passengers. As regards its decision to discontinue correspondence with the complainant, the Ombudsman did not agree with the Commission's view that his correspondence was "improper" and made another recommendation to the Commission in this regard.
The Commission accepted in principle the Ombudsman's second recommendation. While the Commission did not reject the Ombudsman's first recommendation, it is clear from its response that it does not share the Ombudsman's view regarding the extent of a carrier's duty of care to a passenger. In closing her inquiry , the Ombudsman dealt with this by way of a critical remark. She also forwarded her decision to Parliament's relevant committees, and to national ombudsmen, for information.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1078/2013/EIS against the European Commission
Mardi | 07 juillet 2015
The case concerns the Commission's handling of an infringement complaint regarding the Italian authorities' approach towards recognising foreign qualifications of engineers. The complaint arose from the failure of the Italian authorities to recognise an intermediary qualification leading to a final qualification. The Commission found that the Italian authorities failed to comply with the relevant law in the complainant's case. However, since there was no consistent and general administrative practice contrary to EU law, it decided not to open infringement proceedings against Italy. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Italian authorities' refusal to take the Commission's position concerning the complainant's case into account indicated a systemic issue that would have merited the Commission's intervention, without waiting for future problems of that kind to arise. She thus made a friendly solution proposal suggesting that the Commission resume its investigation of the complainant's infringement complaint. Since, in its reply to the Ombudsman's friendly solution proposal, the Commission (i) explicitly stated that the decision of the national authorities in the complainant's case was wrong, and (ii) committed itself to pursuing the matter should any other similar cases be brought to its attention, the Ombudsman concluded that there was no maladministration and closed the case.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 995/2011/KM against the European Commission
Mardi | 30 juin 2015
The case concerned an infringement complaint submitted to the European Commission in relation to the alleged failure of Germany to implement properly certain provisions of the ePrivacy directive. The complainant turned to the European Ombudsman alleging that the Commission had failed to explain properly the reasons for not commencing an investigation. The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and found that the Commission subsequently provided an adequate explanation in relation to some of the issues raised by the complainant. As regards the issues in relation to which the Commission did not provide an adequate explanation, the Ombudsman closed the case with a critical remark.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 503/2012/DK against the European Commission
Mardi | 09 juin 2015
The case concerned the European Commission's handling of a complaint concerning an Irish law governing the right to work as an architect. The law required that persons who had not obtained formal qualifications as architects, but who wanted to use the title 'architect' in Ireland, should have worked for at least 10 years as architects in Ireland. The complainant considered that this requirement discriminated against persons who had obtained equivalent experience outside of Ireland. When the Commission closed the infringement complaint by concluding that the Irish law was not discriminatory, the complainant contacted the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman called upon the Commission to recognise that the Irish law was discriminatory and that the only reason it had not taken the matter further was that it felt it would be disproportionate to do so.
The Commission did not accept the Ombudsman's draft recommendation. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a critical remark.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 400/2014/DK against the European Commission
Lundi | 08 juin 2015
The case concerned the European Commission's alleged failure to inform the complainant about the priority status of his State aid complaint.
The Ombudsman inquired into the issue. In the course of her inquiry, the Commission informed the complainant that his complaint was not treated as a priority case. However, the Commission did not explain the reasons for its decision. The Ombudsman therefore closed the complaint with a critical remark concerning the Commission's failure to inform the complainant about why it had given a low priority status to his state aid complaint.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2302/2013/DK against the European Commission
Vendredi | 17 avril 2015
The case concerned the allegedly insufficient explanation given by the European Commission concerning its decision not to initiate an infringement proceeding against Austria.
The Ombudsman inquired into the issue by asking the Commission to provide further information about its decision. In reply, the Commission clarified its position. The Ombudsman found that the information thus provided was coherent, sufficient and reasonable. She therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.
Draft recommendation of the European Ombudsman in the inquiry into complaint 25/2013/ANA against the European Commission
Jeudi | 26 mars 2015
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1348/2013/EIS against the European Commission
Mercredi | 25 mars 2015
The case concerned the method for calculating a quality index of durum wheat on the basis of which a premium was paid to farmers in the EU until 2009 under the Common Agricultural Policy. The premium was paid only in the case of durum wheat suitable for use in the manufacture of semolina and pasta products. The complainant wrote to the Commission and argued that the contested method was erroneous and had a distortive effect, but the Commission did not modify it. He complained to the European Ombudsman that the Commission had failed to provide him with an adequate reply. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration by the Commission.
Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1500/2014/FOR against the European Commission
Jeudi | 13 novembre 2014
The Ombudsman's inquiry concerned an alleged delay by the Commission in providing Infineon, a German IT company, which the Commission suspected to be a member of the Smart Card Chips cartel, with access to key evidence that the Commission intended to use against that company.
The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Commission had, without any good reason, delayed in providing access to that evidence, despite the fact that it was fully aware of the importance and relevance of that evidence. By incurring that delay, the Commission risked compromising its investigation.
The Ombudsman therefore criticised the Commission for the delay in giving Infineon access to that evidence.