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Rādīt 1 - 20 no 203 rezultātiem

Decision on how the European Commission involved stakeholders and managed conflicts of interest in reviewing the protection goals for assessing environmental risks of pesticides (case 1402/2020/TE)

Pirmdiena | 08 novembris 2021

The case concerned an ongoing review by the European Commission of the criteria for assessing environmental risks in pesticides, the ‘specific protection goals’. The complainant, an environmental organisation, was concerned with the method being proposed and alleged that there are conflicts of interest with the experts involved in devising this method.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into one aspect of the complaint, which concerned the Commission’s selection of an expert in a stakeholder workshop that took place at the beginning of the review in September 2019. The Ombudsman noted that the Commission had not asked the expert in question to submit a declaration of interest ahead of this workshop.

The Ombudsman took the view that the Commission should have required the expert to submit a declaration of interest. This is because of the nature of the workshop, which concerned the implementation of EU legislation in a controversial area, the role of the expert therein and the fact that the expert was presented as being independent. The disclosure of any interests, which could give rise to a conflict of interest, is essential to ensure public trust in the policies that result from such processes and the legitimacy of such policies in the eyes of the public.

As the Commission asked the expert to submit a declaration of interest in the meantime, the Ombudsman does not see the need to pursue the matter further. Having said that, the Ombudsman expects that the Commission will require, assess and publish declarations of interest of experts invited in their personal capacity to similar future events, and she is making a suggestion to that effect.

The Ombudsman also examined the complainant’s claims regarding the substance of the declaration of interest, namely that it was incomplete and that the Commission did not assess it in order to identify any conflicts of interest. The Ombudsman found the Commission’s assessment to be reasonable. She thus closed the inquiry.

Decision on how the European Commission handled concerns about the composition of the High Level Forum on Capital Markets Union and alleged conflicts of interest of some of its members (case 1777/2020/KR)

Trešdiena | 27 oktobris 2021

This complaint-based inquiry concerned the High Level Forum on the proposed EU Capital Markets Union, a Commission expert group. The Forum gathered senior industry executives and top international experts and scholars to develop new ideas on related policies for the Commission and, in 2020, produced a report with recommendations.

Following an extensive inspection of Commission documents and a meeting with the Commission as part of the inquiry, the Ombudsman identified two instances of maladministration:

1. A number of Forum members with links to financial institutions were considered by the Commission as being independent and representing the public interest. With the aim of mitigating the risks of conflicts of interest that the Commission had identified, it applied general measures. The Ombudsman carefully assessed these measures and deemed them to be insufficient.

2. Based on the flawed categorisation of Forum members, the Commission made public a split between Forum members that were supposed to be independent and Forum members that represented a common interest of different stakeholder organisations that deviated significantly from what it was in reality.

The Ombudsman issued a recommendation.

The Commission’s reply to the Ombudsman’s recommendation presented no new information and does not alter the inquiry findings.

The Ombudsman closes her inquiry by confirming her findings and recommendation.

 

Recommendation on how the European Defence Agency handled the applications of its former Chief Executive to take on senior positions at Airbus (OI/3/2021/KR)

Trešdiena | 27 oktobris 2021

The Ombudsman conducted an inquiry on her own initiative into the decision of the European Defence Authority (EDA) to allow its former Chief Executive to take up two senior positions with Airbus, an aerospace company.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry also looked into how the EDA dealt with the fact that the former Chief Executive took up his new positions before the EDA had authorised him to do so, which is a breach of the EDA’s Staff Regulations.

The Ombudsman found that the conditions imposed on the former Chief Executive by the EDA in its authorising decision were insufficient when measured against the risks, and could not be monitored and enforced. There were also shortcomings in how the EDA assessed the risk of conflicts of interest.

The EDA should have instead applied stronger conditions and forbidden the former Chief Executive from taking up the position which gave rise to the greatest risk of conflict with the EDA’s legitimate interest. Not doing so amounted to maladministration by the EDA.

Based on these findings, the Ombudsman issued two recommendations:

(i) In future, the EDA should forbid its senior staff from taking up positions after their term of office where a clear conflict of interest arises with the legitimate interests of the EDA;

(ii) The EDA should set out the criteria for forbidding such moves, in order to give clarity to senior staff. Applicants for senior EDA posts should be informed of the criteria when they apply.

Recommendation in case 1777/2020/KR on how the European Commission handled concerns about the composition of the High Level Forum on the EU Capital Markets Union and alleged conflicts of interest of some of its members

Otrdiena | 04 maijs 2021

The case concerned the High Level Forum on the proposed EU Capital Markets Union, a Commission expert group. The Forum gathered senior industry executives and top international experts and scholars to develop new ideas on related policies for the Commission.

The Forum had two types of members:

Type A - who were appointed in their personal capacity to act independently and in the public interest;

Type B - members who represented a common interest of different stakeholder organisations.

The complainant was concerned that a number of Type A members had links to financial institutions and could, as such, not be considered independent. After the Forum’s recommendations were made public, these members’ declarations of interests were no longer publicly available. In general, the complainant was concerned that the Forum’s composition was insufficiently broad and diverse.

The Ombudsman inquiry found two instances of maladministration:

1. Instead of following its own rules on conflicts of interest for Type A members, the Commission applied general measures to mitigate risks of conflicts of interest. These measures were insufficient.

2. Consequently, the split between the two types of Forum members deviated significantly from the balance that the Commission claimed it struck, and made public.

Based on her inquiry, the Ombudsman recommends that the Commission diligently apply its rules regarding conflicts of interest for individuals applying to be appointed as Type A members of expert groups. Other mitigating measures to address risks of conflicts of interest of Type A members may be taken in addition, but should not substitute the Commission’s rules to this end.