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Decision on how the European Commission changed the sickness and accident insurance policy for Conference Interpreting Agents (552/2021/MMO)

Piektdiena | 15 oktobris 2021

The case concerned a new insurance policy that the European Commission concluded with a private insurance company to provide accident and sickness insurance for Conference Interpreting Agents (ACIs).

The complainant is a former ACI who considered that the conditions of the new insurance policy were very disadvantageous compared to the previous policy, and that it discriminated against certain ACIs.

During the inquiry, it became clear that the complainant would be less disadvantaged than he had feared. The Ombudsman found that the Commission’s explanations for the changes in the policy are convincing and reasonable. The inquiry also uncovered no evidence that would call into question the procedure leading to the new insurance contract, which included consultation with the international interpreters’ association.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with the conclusion that there was no maladministration by the Commission.

Decision on how the European Commission dealt with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the work of researchers participating in the EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (joint cases 1242/2020/SF and 1380/2020/SF)

Ceturtdiena | 01 jūlijs 2021

The complaints concerned the European Commission’s decision not to extend funding for those carrying out research under the EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Programme (MSCA) following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the work of researchers. The complainants considered that the measures the Commission put in place to support MSCA researchers during the COVID-19 crisis were insufficient, as they would not enable them to continue their work.

The Ombudsman opened an inquiry into how the Commission communicated with project partners that received grants under the MSCA, and the researchers carrying out the work for those project partners, about the measures they could take to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their projects.

During the inquiry, the Ombudsman shared her preliminary findings with the Commission. In particular, the inquiry showed that, overall, the Commission had taken appropriate action to communicate the measures that could be taken to support researchers according to the applicable rules. However, as no solution had been found for the complainants, she urged the Commission to explore whether additional funding could exceptionally be awarded to the complainants and researchers in similarly difficult situations.

The Commission broadly accepted the Ombudsman’s preliminary findings but reiterated that, due to legal and financial constraints, it cannot provide any exceptional funding.

The Ombudsman appreciates the difficult situation faced by many MSCA researchers due to the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, she acknowledges the Commission’s commitment to find solutions within the applicable rules for those researchers impacted. While it is regrettable that a solution could not be found for the complainants and researchers in similar situations, the Ombudsman closed the case as further inquiries would not result in a more satisfactory outcome for the complainants. However, she made two suggestions for improvement.

Decision in case 380/2020/VB on alleged irregularities in the selection procedure for the European prosecutor of one EU Member State

Trešdiena | 28 aprīlis 2021

The case concerned the selection procedure for appointing a European prosecutor, part of the ‘College’ of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The complainant is an unsuccessful candidate, who considered that there were irregularities in the selection procedure and the ad hoc ‘selection panel’s’ opinion to exclude his candidature for the position. In addition, the complainant did not receive a reply to concerns he raised.

In the course of the inquiry, the Ombudsman’s inquiry team took the view that there was a lack of clarity around possible review procedures and made a proposal for a solution and a suggestion for improvement to the Council of the EU. The Council rejected the proposals.

The selection procedure for the posts of European prosecutors lacks any mechanism providing for acts or omissions of the selection panel to be reviewed. There is clearly an accountability vacuum and the Council has missed an opportunity to enhance public trust in and the legitimacy of the selection procedure for these important posts. The solution proposal and suggestion for improvement would have helped address these shortcomings.

As the selection panel is not an EU body, which can be subject to an inquiry of the Ombudsman, and both the Council and Commission have refused to take responsibility for the actions of the panel, the Ombudsman considers that no further inquiries are justified and closes the case.

Decision in case 1015/2020/MMO against the European Commission for not inviting a person with disabilities for an interview

Trešdiena | 21 aprīlis 2021

The case concerned the fact that the European Commission never invited the complainant, a person with a disability, for an interview although he had passed an EU staff selection procedure in the field of food safety and had been included on a shortlist from which successful candidates may be recruited. The complainant argued that he had been discriminated against because of his disability.

The Ombudsman found no indication that the Commission had discriminated against the complainant. In view of this, and given that the shortlist of successful candidates in which the complainant was included is no longer valid, the Ombudsman concluded that no further inquiries into the complaint were justified.