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Decision in case 1641/2015/ZA on the European Personnel Selection Office’s refusal to allow the complainant to apply under two concurrent competitions for recruiting translators and failure to explain the reasons for applying this practice

Martedì | 17 luglio 2018

The case concerned the European Personnel Selection Office’s (`EPSO`) practice of not permitting candidates to apply for more than one concurrent recruitment competition for EU civil servants even where they fulfilled the criteria. EPSO refused to allow the complainant to apply under two concurrent competitions for recruiting translators for the EU institutions, and failed to convincingly explain the reasons for applying this practice.

The Ombudsman found that this practice could have the consequence of hindering the recruitment of the most qualified persons and that, accordingly, EPSO should be able to provide convincing reasoning as to why it has this practice. The Ombudsman found that EPSO´s failure to provide such reasoning to the complainant constituted maladministration. She found also that any continuation of the practice, in the absence of solid reasoning, would necessarily also constitute maladministration. The Ombudsman therefore recommended to EPSO that it immediately review its policy in relation to this practice.

In response, EPSO set up an internal reflection group to conduct a detailed impact assessment of any policy change in this area. The assessment will be presented to EPSO's Management Board by December 2018. The Board must take the final decision. As EPSO is acting on her recommendation, the Ombudsman has decided to close the case.

Decision in case 515/2016/JAP on the European Asylum Support Office’s probationary assessment of a temporary agent

Venerdì | 28 aprile 2017

The case concerned the assessment of the probationary period of a temporary agent at the European Asylum Support Office (‘EASO’). The complainant, who was dismissed at the end of her probationary period, argued that there were a number of procedural shortcomings in her assessment. Moreover, the EASO failed to reply to her complaints made under the EU Staff Regulations.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and requested the EASO to reply to the complaints. She found that the EASO had taken the necessary steps to ensure an impartial assessment of the complainant’s probationary period and had respected the complainant’s right to be heard before taking the final decision on her further employment. The Ombudsman thus closed the case.

Decision in case 2033/2015/ZA on the European Personnel Selection Office’s (EPSO) handling of a request for review of a language proficiency exam

Mercoledì | 14 dicembre 2016

EU officials are required to demonstrate the ability to work in a third language before their first promotion. When the complainant, who works in an EU Agency, failed a language proficiency exam in his third language, he asked EPSO to give him reasons for the relatively low grade in the writing test of the exam and also inform him of possible review mechanisms. In his view, EPSO’s explanations concerning his grade seemed inconsistent, while its initial reply about review possibilities was incorrect. Following the complainant’s insistence, EPSO agreed to reassess his writing test. The second evaluator confirmed the initial grade.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue. She examined the complainant’s test, as well as the assessments of the two evaluators. The Ombudsman did not find any manifest error or indications of partiality in the assessment of the complainant’s writing test. Concerning the erroneous information about the review possibilities, EPSO recognised its mistake and apologised to the complainant. The Ombudsman did not consider that further inquiries were necessary and closed the case. However, she made a suggestion for improvement concerning the information given to participants in language proficiency tests about the procedure and their review/appeal rights.

Decision in case 629/2015/ANA concerning the decision of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) not to establish a temporary agent at the end of the probationary period

Lunedì | 11 luglio 2016

The case concerned the decision of the ECDC to terminate the contract of a temporary agent at the end of a probationary period.

The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry into the matter and took the view that, in general terms, the explanations given by the ECDC about its decision not to retain the complainant in employment at the end of the probationary period were reasonable.

However, the Ombudsman considered that the ECDC had failed to make clear to the complainant, in good time, (a) that the problems identified in the Newcomers' Evaluation Dialogue were so serious as to warrant the termination of the complainant's contract, (b) the areas in which he needed to improve, through a specific and clear Action Plan. The failure to do so constituted maladministration. Moreover, the Ombudsman considers that, in circumstances in which an EU body does not have enough time to evaluate properly the work of a temporary agent, or where the temporary agent has not had an adequate opportunity to correct deficiencies in his or her performance, it would be good administration to examine if "exceptional circumstances" justifying the extension of the probationary period exist. As there is no evidence in the file that the ECDC seriously examined the option of extending the complainant's probation period, the Ombudsman made a corresponding suggestion for improvement for the future. Finally, given that it is good administration to apologise for any bad practice, the Ombudsman believes that the ECDC should acknowledge its mistakes in dealing with this case and apologise to the complainant for these mistakes.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 2041/2014/DK against the European Commission regarding transfer of pension rights

Mercoledì | 25 maggio 2016

The case concerned the Commission's decision to change its original proposal on the transfer in of the complainant's pension rights, acquired in the UK pension scheme, into the EU pension scheme.

The Commission argued that it was required to change its original proposal as it had been based on General Implementing Provisions which were already out of date at the time its proposal was made. The Commission's revised proposal, which was less favourable to the complainant, was based on the revised General Implementing Provisions actually in place at the date of the original proposal. The complainant argued that the Commission should honour its first proposal that he had already accepted.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the General Court had ruled that the Commission was not legally required to make proposals on the transfer in of pension rights acquired outside of the EU pension scheme and that, in fact, an actual determination of the worth of such transferred pension rights could be given only after the transfer had been made. In fact, this was a practice established by the Commission simply to better inform its officials about what they could expect once they actually decided to request the transfer in of their pension rights into the EU pension scheme.

The Ombudsman therefore closed the complaint with a conclusion that there was no maladministration by the Commission.

Decisione nel caso 45/2015/PMC - Azioni dell'Ufficio europeo per la lotta antifrode in relazione a una segnalazione di irregolarità (whistleblowing)

Martedì | 11 agosto 2015

Il caso riguardava le azioni intraprese dall'OLAF dopo una denuncia di irregolarità presentata da un dipendente dell'Agenzia europea per la sicurezza aerea (AESA), in base alla quale la stessa AESA avrebbe manipolato un verbale di ispezione relativo alla sicurezza dell'aviazione. In seguito a una valutazione preliminare, la Mediatrice nutriva preoccupazioni riguardo a quella che appariva come una decisione, da parte dell'OLAF, di respingere il caso e reinvestire della questione l'AESA, malgrado il denunciante avesse scelto intenzionalmente di presentare la denuncia all'OLAF e non all'AESA. La Mediatrice ha stabilito in via preliminare che una tale decisione avrebbe potuto incidere negativamente sull'efficacia generale delle disposizioni in materia di whistleblowing e ha deciso pertanto di svolgere un'indagine al riguardo.

In seguito a un'ispezione condotta sugli archivi dell'OLAF, la Mediatrice ha appurato che l'OLAF aveva considerato correttamente se fosse il caso di aprire un'indagine. È inoltre emerso che l'OLAF in realtà non aveva chiuso il caso, ma aveva chiesto all'AESA di esaminare la questione e di riferire sui risultati della sua indagine. Inoltre, l'OLAF si era riservato il diritto di avviare un'inchiesta formale in una fase successiva. Alla luce di questi fatti, la Mediatrice ha appurato che l'OLAF aveva gestito correttamente la segnalazione di illecito presentata dal denunciante. La Mediatrice ha osservato che l'OLAF avrebbe dovuto comunicare in modo più esplicito al denunciante che il rinvio della questione all'AESA non significava che l'OLAF non avrebbe intrapreso ulteriori azioni al riguardo. La Mediatrice ha formulato un'ulteriore osservazione in proposito.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiries into complaints 26/2011/DK and 1307/2012/DK against the European External Action Service

Giovedì | 04 giugno 2015

The case concerned the complainant's dismissal as a member of staff in a European Union Police Mission, and his subsequent request to have access to the documents contained in his personal file.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the complainant's dismissal was legal. However, she also found that the Mission should have waited for the completion of the internal review process, which actually dealt with the complainant's situation, before dismissing the complainant. The Ombudsman therefore considered it appropriate to ask the European External Action Service (EEAS), in a proposal for a solution, to offer the complainant an ex gratia payment in recognition of the errors made by the Mission. The EEAS accepted the proposal and offered to make an ex gratia payment of EUR 2000.The complainant did not accept the offer. The Ombudsman considered that the amount offered by the EEAS was appropriate and that there were therefore no grounds for further inquiries into this aspect of the case.

As regards the complainant's access to his personal file, the Ombudsman found that there had not been any maladministration on the part of the EEAS.

Whistleblowing

Lunedì | 02 marzo 2015

Decisione nel caso OI/1/2014/PMC - Soltanto due istituzioni dell'UE hanno adottato le norme richieste in materia di whistleblowing

Giovedì | 26 febbraio 2015

Dal 1° gennaio 2014 le istituzioni dell'UE hanno reso obbligatoria l'introduzione di norme interne riguardanti le denunce di irregolarità (whistleblowing) che includessero la protezione degli informatori (whistleblowers), la trasmissione di informazioni agli stessi e una procedura per la gestione delle denunce sporte da detti informatori relativamente al trattamento a loro riservato. Al fine di assicurarsi che l'amministrazione dell'UE faccia tutto ciò che è in suo potere per incoraggiare chi viene a conoscenza di gravi violazioni o illeciti a denunciare tali irregolarità, la Mediatrice europea ha avviato un'indagine di propria iniziativa rivolta al Parlamento europeo, alla Commissione europea, al Consiglio dell'Unione europea, alla Corte di Giustizia dell'Unione europea, alla Corte dei conti europea, al Servizio europeo per l’azione esterna, al Comitato economico e sociale europeo, al Comitato delle regioni e al garante europeo della protezione dei dati.

La Mediatrice è rimasta delusa nell'apprendere dalle proprie indagini che, ad oggi, solamente due delle nove istituzioni in questione hanno adottato norme del tipo richiesto. Dalle risposte delle istituzioni emerge che molto ancora deve essere fatto per dimostrare all'opinione pubblica e ai potenziali informatori che le istituzioni dell'UE accolgono con favore la denuncia di irregolarità, incoraggiano gli informatori a farsi avanti e li proteggono da eventuali ritorsioni delle istituzioni per le quali lavorano, oltre a garantire che vere e proprie indagini seguano alle eventuali denunce. La Mediatrice europea chiude quindi l'indagine definendo linee guida tese al miglioramento della situazione, sollecitando le istituzioni a cercare di concludere quanto prima possibile le proprie discussioni a livello interistituzionale e, nell'ambito di tale processo, a seguire l'esempio delle norme interne del Mediatore europeo in materia di whistleblowing. La Mediatrice europea elogia anche la Commissione e la Corte dei conti per i progressi fatti fino a oggi a questo proposito.