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Decision of the European Ombudsman in case 204/2021/PL on how the European Public Prosecutor’s Office dealt with a request for contribution to travel expenses made by a candidate in a staff selection procedure

Dear Ms X,

On 27 January 2020, you submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman against the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). You disagree with how the EPPO interpreted its ‘Rules on financial contributions towards travel and subsistence expenses’ when dealing with your request for contribution to the travel expenses that you incurred when attending an interview at the EPPO’s premises in Luxemburg.

The EPPO considered that the distance between your place of residence and the EPPO’s premises was 195 km. According to its rules, the EPPO contributes to travel expenses only in case the distance is 200 km or more.

You argue that the distance, travelled by car, is 228 km and that the method used by the EPPO to calculate the distance is abstract and inconsistent with the practice of other institutions. You also argue that the EPPO’s time limit for  making contribution payments is not in line with the Financial Regulation.

After a careful analysis of all the information you provided with your complaint, we regret to inform you that the Ombudsman finds no maladministration by the EPPO.[1]

Each EU body adopts its own rules on financial contributions towards travel and subsistence expenses and such rules may thus differ from one body to another. The rules adopted by the EPPO refer to ‘geographical distance’[2] and they make no reference to means of transport.

Moreover, the rules set out that contributions to travel expenses shall be made in accordance with previously defined arrangements[3]. The EPPO informed candidates that it would use ‘Sysper2’ to calculate the distance. This tool calculates distance in a straight line or ‘as the crow flies’. As the EPPO has showed you with a screenshot, with this method of calculation, your place of residence is less than 200km away from where the interview took place. Thus, the EPPO acted in line with its applicable rules.

Given that you were not entitled to a contribution to travel expenses, there are no grounds to inquire into your argument about the EPPO taking too long to pay such contributions.

On the basis of the above, the Ombudsman has closed the case.[4]

We understand that you may be disappointed by this decision, but we hope that the above explanations are nevertheless helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Tina Nilsson
Head of the Case-handling Unit

Strasbourg, 25/02/2021

 

[1] This complaint has been dealt with under delegated case handling, in accordance with Article 11 of the Decision of the European Ombudsman adopting Implementing Provisions.

[2] The version of the rules that you were given were in English and refer to ‘geographical distance’. We take note that other language versions refer to ‘distance’ only.

[3] Article 2(2) of the EEPO’s ‘Rules on financial contributions towards travel and subsistence expenses’ read: “Each institution shall contribute to travel expenses in accordance with the arrangements which it has previously defined”.

[4] Full information on the procedure and rights pertaining to complaints can be found at https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/document/70707