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Decision in own-initiative inquiry OI/7/2016/MDC on the decision of the European Union Delegation to Armenia not to conclude a Grant Contract

Pirmadienis | 19 vasario 2018

This own-initiative inquiry is based on a complaint made by an association of Armenian NGOs called the Citizens' Protection League (CPL). It concerns the decision of the European Union Delegation to Armenia not to conclude a Grant Contract with CPL following the Delegation’s discovery of an error in its initial assessment of the CPL application. CPL argued that the Delegation’s decision was not based on sound reasons.

In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the European Commission acknowledged that the action taken initially by the Delegation, once it realised that an error had occurred in the evaluation process, was not appropriate. However, the Commission also showed that the error detected required that the evaluation of CPL’s application be redone and, thus, that the Delegation was not in a position to conclude the Grant Contract with CPL.

The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

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

Trečiadienis | 06 gruodžio 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.  

Decision in case 1064/2015/JAP on the European Commission’s rejection and recovery of costs claimed under an FP6 grant agreement

Ketvirtadienis | 22 birželio 2017

The case concerned the Commission’s rejection and proposed recovery of certain costs related to subcontracted activities in the context of an FP6 grant agreement. Arising from the Ombudsman’s inquiry the Commission decided not to proceed with the recovery of costs totalling almost 87.000 EUR. The Commission explained that it had decided to change its original decision on the basis that the complainant had acted in good faith and in accordance with advice which the Commission had itself given.

The Ombudsman welcomed this new decision; nevertheless, she found it to have been unfortunate that for several years the complainant had the prospect of a major recovery of funds hanging over it.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 208/2015/PD concerning conflicts of interests in a Commission expert group on electromagnetic field

Antradienis | 18 balandžio 2017

The case concerned alleged conflicts of interests concerning members of a Commission working group tasked with reviewing the science on the effects that electromagnetic fields may have on health. The complaint to the Ombudsman alleged that the Commission had not examined properly whether the scientists in the working group had conflicts of interests.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue. She was satisfied that the Commission had examined the matter properly and that the scientists had no conflicting interests. Thus, there was no maladministration by the Commission. However, the Ombudsman found that the Commission’s procedures could be improved and made some suggestions for improvement.

Decision in case 689/2016/ZA on the European Global Navigation Systems Agency’s rejection of the complainant’s application for the position of Head of the ICT Department

Penktadienis | 27 sausio 2017

The case concerned the selection procedure for the position of Head of the ICT Department in the European Global Navigation Systems Agency. The complainant maintained that the Agency had failed to assess his application fairly and claimed that the Agency should revise its decision to reject his application.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and asked the Agency to clarify a number of procedural matters. Based on the Agency’s reply and her own analysis, the Ombudsman did not identify any manifest error in the selection procedure. Therefore the case was closed with a finding of no maladministration.

Access to documents and to information

Antradienis | 20 gruodžio 2016

Decision in case 393/2015/MDC on the European Commission’s refusal to grant full public access to evaluation documents concerning a public procurement process

Pirmadienis | 19 gruodžio 2016

The complaint, submitted by the NGO Access Info Europe, concerns the European Commission's allegedly wrongful refusal to grant full public access to evaluation documents concerning a public procurement process for the 'Rehabilitation and extension of the waste water treatment plant of Subotica' (Serbia). The disclosure of the documents was refused on the basis of Article 4(1)(b) (the protection of personal data), Article 4(2) (the protection of commercial interests) and Article 4(3) (the protection of the decision-making process) of Regulation 1049/2001. The complainant considered that it should be granted full access to the evaluation documents.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that there was no maladministration in the Commission's conduct.  However, she suggests that the Commission should systematically obtain, prior to their appointment, the consent of evaluation committee members in procurement processes to the disclosure of their names. Disclosure of their names at the conclusion of the evaluation process should be considered a condition of appointment to such a committee.

Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 1206/2014/PD concerning the European Commission’s refusal to disclose the names of officials in a State aid case

Pirmadienis | 19 gruodžio 2016

The case concerned a refusal by the Commission to disclose the names of staff who had worked on a Commission State aid investigation. In the course of the inquiry the Ombudsman obtained the views of the Commission, the complainant and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The question of whether the refusal to disclose the names was right hinged upon Article 8 of Regulation 45/2001 on Data Protection. Under that provision the person asking for disclosure must first show the necessity of disclosing the names to that person. If that test 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.  

While holding that the Commission should not apply Article 8 in a restrictive manner when names of staff are at issue, the Ombudsman found that there was no maladministration on the part of the Commission in refusing to disclose the names of the staff members at issue.

Decision in case 628/2016/EIS concerning the decision of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) not to allow the complainant to submit a new application after he failed to pass the first tests

Ketvirtadienis | 01 gruodžio 2016

The case concerned the decision of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) not to allow the complainant to submit a second application in the context of a call for expressions of interest which contained no specific deadline for the submission of applications. The complainant sought to submit a second application after failing to pass the test linked to his initial application under the same selection procedure. The complainant argued that EPSO failed to provide adequate replies to his letters concerning (i) the legal basis for not allowing candidates to reapply in selection procedures without any specific closing dates; and (ii) the conditions, including the behaviour of staff, at the test centre in Spain.

In its response, EPSO referred to the conditions set out in the call for expressions of interest as the legal basis for its actions. It also explained that it had investigated the matter concerning the behaviour of the staff at the test centre.

The Ombudsman found EPSO’s explanation to be reasonable and adequate, so the case was closed.

Decision in case 1052/2016/EIS on the Council’s handling of the complainant’s request to rectify a term included in a Directive

Ketvirtadienis | 24 lapkričio 2016

The case concerned the Council’s alleged failure to properly explain to the complainant why it can take up to one year to rectify the text of a Directive, if any changes are deemed necessary. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the Council had provided an extensive and adequate reply. The complainant also appeared to be satisfied with the explanations given. The case was thus closed as settled.

Decision in case 204/2016/DR on EPSO’s alleged failure to comply with the rules of selection procedure EPSO/CAST/P/1/2015

Trečiadienis | 09 lapkričio 2016

The case concerned an alleged failure by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) to comply with the rules of a selection procedure.

The Ombudsman asked EPSO to adress the complainant’s concerns as a first step of her inquiry. These concerns related to the alleged provision of erroneous information about the tests under the selection procedure and a material mistake in the letters informing the complainant of the results of her tests. The Ombudsman found that EPSO’s subsequent reply provided comprehensive and reasonable explanations as regards the issues raised by the complainant and that there was nothing to suggest that it did not comply with the rules governing the selection procedure in question. She therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 535/2014/JAS concerning the European Personnel Selection Office’s alleged discrimination against candidates without doctoral diplomas in a call for research contract agents

Pirmadienis | 26 rugsėjo 2016

The case concerned a selection procedure for contract agents organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) in 2013. Candidates in such selection procedures must first meet certain eligibility criteria. Candidates who meet these eligibility criteria are then evaluated on the basis of selection criteria. The best candidates are then placed on a reserve list.

The complainant met the eligibility criteria, which included the need to have either a doctoral diploma or at least five years professional experience as a researcher. However, he was excluded from the competition after his application was compared with other candidates on the basis of the selection criteria. He then complained that the selection criteria had favoured candidates with a doctoral diploma, while the Call for Expressions of Interest had implied that a doctoral diploma would be treated as equivalent to five years of professional experience.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and concluded that there had been no maladministration. Eligibility criteria establish a minimum threshold that all candidates must meet. Selection criteria then serve to allow the selection board to identify the best candidates from amongst the eligible candidates. It is clearly within an institution’s discretion to decide which selection criteria to use as long as they are not manifestly inappropriate. The Ombudsman concluded that the choice of selection criteria in this case had been perfectly reasonable. As regards the complainant’s argument that the selection had not been transparent, the Ombudsman noted that the selection criteria had been set out clearly in the Call.

Sprendimas byloje 1179/2014/LP - Europos ombudsmenės sprendimas byloje 1179/2014/LP dėl „suinteresuotųjų subjektų“ dalyvavimo Komisijos vykdomuose valstybės pagalbos tyrimuose

Penktadienis | 23 rugsėjo 2016

Skundo pateikėjas tvirtino, kad įsigaliojus Europos Sąjungos pagrindinių teisių chartijai Komisijos praktika pažeidė Chartijos 41 straipsnį (teisė į gerą administravimą) ir 47 straipsnį (teisė į veiksmingą teisinę gynybą ir teisingą bylos nagrinėjimą).

Ombudsmenė ištyrė šį klausimą ir nustatė, kad Komisijos praktika atitiko susijusius valstybės pagalbos procedūrinius reglamentus ir ES teismų jurisprudenciją dėl suinteresuotųjų subjektų procedūrinių teisių. Tai, kad pagalbos gavėjai ir kiti suinteresuotieji subjektai negali susipažinti su Komisijos valstybės pagalbos byla, rodo nedidelį jų vaidmenį vykdant valstybės pagalbos tyrimus ir tai, kad valstybės pagalbos tyrimas pradedamas prieš valstybę narę, o ne pagalbos gavėją. Todėl ombudsmenė nustatė, kad tai nebuvo netinkamo administravimo atvejis.

Alleged irregularities in a tender procedure

Pirmadienis | 05 rugsėjo 2016

Decision in case 1874/2013/MG on alleged irregularities in a European Commission tendering procedure

Pirmadienis | 29 rugpjūčio 2016

The complainant is an IT company which participated in a Commission tender. The Commission asked all tenderers to complete two case studies to allow it to evaluate their technical abilities.

The complainant took issue with the fact that one of the case studies was very similar to a tender recently organised by an EU agency. It alleged that this gave the companies which had won that tender a competitive advantage in the Commission tender. The complainant also took issue with the Commission's decision not to disclose the names of the persons who evaluated the proposals for the Commission.

Following her inquiry, the Ombudsman concluded that the Commission's design of the tender procedure did not confer a competitive advantage on the winning tenderer. As regards the disclosure of the names of the evaluators, the Ombudsman suggests that the Commission consider releasing such names in the future.