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Decision in case 546/2019/JN on how the European Commission handled a complaint about the Slovak judiciary

Monday | 15 April 2019

The complaint to the European Commission 1. On 5 April 2018, the complainant wrote to the European Commission. He was mainly concerned that the Slovak judiciary does not respect the right to a fair trial and the right to effective judicial protection. He referred to ongoing legal proceedings before Slovak courts to which he was a party and which had already lasted some 23 years. The European Commi...

Decision in case 450/2019/SRS on the European Central Bank’s alleged failure to reply in a clear manner to correspondence concerning an Irish financial institution

Friday | 12 April 2019

The complaint to the European Central Bank 1. The complainant is a former ‘tied agent’ of an Irish financial institution (“the financial institution”).[1] He has been corresponding extensively with the European Central Bank (ECB) since 2016. 2. In May 2016, the complainant set out to the ECB his concerns about the financial institution’s past conduct. He asked the ECB to open an investigation on t...

Decision in cases 1512/2018/JN and 1533/2018/JN on the Research Executive Agency’s decision to recover funds in the context of an EU-funded project

Thursday | 11 April 2019

The cases concerned how the Research Executive Agency (‘REA’) assessed a project focusing on the development of a technology. The complainant was concerned that the REA’s conduct and assessment had been unfair.

The Ombudsman examined the evidence provided by the complainant and found that the REA had taken adequate actions to settle the issues raised by the complainant. The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry.

Decision in cases 1512/2018/JN and 1533/2018/JN on the Research Executive Agency’s decision to recover funds in the context of an EU-funded project

Thursday | 11 April 2019

The cases concerned how the Research Executive Agency (‘REA’) assessed a project focusing on the development of a technology. The complainant was concerned that the REA’s conduct and assessment had been unfair.

The Ombudsman examined the evidence provided by the complainant and found that the REA had taken adequate actions to settle the issues raised by the complainant. The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry.

Decision in case 489/2018/EA on the European Data Protection Supervisor’s refusal to provide access to a decision challenged before the General Court

Friday | 05 April 2019

The case concerned the European Data Protection Supervisor’s (EDPS’s) refusal to provide access to an EDPS decision challenged before the General Court on the basis that to do so would undermine the court proceedings. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and inspected the requested document. As the issue was no longer before the EU courts, the Ombudsman proposed that the EDPS should grant the complainant public access to the decision, having due regard to any need to protect personal data. The EDPS then provided the complainant with a redacted version of the requested document. As a solution had been achieved, the Ombudsman closed the inquiry.

Decision in case 1138/2018/TM on the Commission’s handling of an IT issue during the submission of a traineeship application

Thursday | 04 April 2019

The case concerned technical issues experienced by an applicant for a traineeship with an EU Agency under the ‘Blue Book’ programme. This programme attracts more than 34 000 applications annually, of which only about 3% can be selected.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration in this case.

Decision in case 1936/2018/FP on how the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency dealt with a request for access to personal data

Friday | 29 March 2019

The case concerned a refusal by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency to disclose the names of staff members who supervised a project in Macedonia.

The Agency refused access on the basis of EU data protection rules which require that the person asking for disclosure of personal data, such as names of persons, must show the necessity of disclosing the names of the persons in question. If that requirement is met, the public authority must still establish whether the legitimate interests of the staff members would be affected by the disclosure of their names and, if so, whether those legitimate interests were more important than the necessity put forward by the person asking for the disclosure of the names.

The Ombudsman found that the complainant has not explained why it was necessary for him to have access to the names. As such, the Agency was justified in refusing to disclose the names of the staff members at issue.

Decision in case 143/2019/TE on the European Parliament’s refusal to give access to documents showing the expenses and allowances received by Irish Members of European Parliament

Thursday | 28 March 2019

The case concerned the way in which the European Parliament dealt with a request for public access to documents showing the expenses and allowances received by Irish Members of European Parliament (MEPs). Parliament refused access to the documents as, in its view, they contained “personal data” of the MEPs which should not be disclosed.

The Ombudsman accepts that the documents do contain “personal data” of the MEPs, since the concept of “personal data” covers all information relating to an identified or identifiable person. The EU courts have ruled that such data could be released only if its disclosure serves a specific necessity and that necessity is more important than the legitimate interests of the MEPs.

The complainant in the present case did not inform Parliament as to why, specifically, he needed the information contained in the documents. Parliament could therefore not release the documents requested by the complainant without infringing the personal data rights of the individual MEPs.

Decision in case 1579/2018/KR on a request to review Commission Decisions authorising the import of three types of genetically modified soybeans

Monday | 25 March 2019

This complaint concerns the European Commission’s decisions to authorise the importation of products containing, consisting of or produced from three genetically modified soybeans.

The complainant was of the view that the Commission wrongly authorised the importation. The arguments it presented to the Ombudsman were scientific in nature.

Given the Ombudsman’s limited role in reviewing decisions involving complex scientific assessments, she asked the complainant to point out any manifest errors in the Commission’s assessment. The complainant did not put forward evidence of a manifest error by the Commission. The Ombudsman also noted that the Commission had consulted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the matter and that it drew on the conclusions reached in EFSA’s report in replying in substance to the complainant. On that basis, the Ombudsman found no maladministration.

The Ombudsman, however, takes note of the complainant’s concerns about what it sees as inadequate post-market monitoring proposals of the genetically modified products at issue in this case. While the Ombudsman cannot assess whether they are adequate or not, she agrees with the complainant about the importance of post-market monitoring and urges the Commission, in cooperation with EFSA, to continue to monitor carefully the effects of these products.

Decision in case 479/2019/PB on the European Commission’s failure to reply to a request for review in an EASME-LIFE EU programme

Tuesday | 02 April 2019

1. On 5 November 2018, the complainant wrote to the European Commission with a request for review of an evaluation of a proposal in the framework of an EASME-LIFE EU programme. 2. The Ombudsman’s inquiry team contacted the European Commission. The Commission informed the Ombudsman that it had replied to the complainant’s request for review on 11 January 2019. It enclosed a copy of its reply. 3. As...