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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 38/2021/PL on the possibility to deselect answers in multiple-choice question tests organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)

Pirmdiena | 10 maijs 2021

The complainant, a candidate in a selection procedure for EU staff, appeared to have left unanswered one question in a multiple-choice question tests organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). EPSO said that she had deselected her initial response. The complainant questioned whether this was even technically possible, as it is not possible in the sample tests available online.

The Ombudsman inspected the technical log for the complainant’s test and found that she had indeed deselected her initial answer. EPSO said that deselecting answers is possible in all test, but not in the sample test, in which it would add a disclaimer about the matter. The Ombudsman thus closes the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Lēmums lietā 1991/2019/KR par Eiropas Komisijas rīcību saistībā ar ilgtspējas novērtējumu gāzes projektiem, kas iekļauti pašreizējā kopīgu interešu projektu sarakstā

Otrdiena | 17 novembris 2020

Lieta attiecās uz gāzes projektu iekļaušanu ES kopīgo interešu projektu (KIP) 2019. gada sarakstā. Tie ir pārrobežu enerģētikas infrastruktūras projekti, kuriem jāpalīdz sasniegt ES enerģētikas un klimata politikas mērķus. Sūdzības iesniedzējs bija noraizējies, ka ilgtspēja gāzes projektiem, kas iekļauti šajā KIP sarakstā, netika pienācīgi novērtēta, kā prasīts.

Komisija jau bija atzinusi, ka gāzes kandidātprojektu ilgtspējas novērtējums datu trūkuma un nepietiekamas metodikas dēļ ir bijis nepietiekams. Izmeklēšanas gaitā Komisija informēja ombudi, ka tā atjaunina kritēriju, ko izmanto, lai novērtētu to projektu ilgtspēju, kas kandidē uz iekļaušanu nākamajā KIP sarakstā, kuru tā izstrādās 2021. gadā.

Paredzams, ka šajā atjauninājumā, novērtējot projektus, tiks ņemts vērā CO2 un metāna līdzsvars, kā arī efektivitātes ietekme. Paredzams, ka rādītājs atspoguļos infrastruktūras paredzamo ietekmi uz kopējo siltumnīcefektu izraisošo gāzu intensitāti enerģijas ražošanā attiecīgajā ES dalībvalstī un emisijas saistībā ar pašas infrastruktūras darbību.

Ombude atzinīgi vērtē, ka Komisija nodrošinās šā atjauninājuma pieejamību, pirms tiks pieņemts lēmums par nākamo KIP sarakstu. Nākamā KIP saraksta pieņemšana ir paredzēta 2021. gada pēdējā ceturksnī.

Ņemot vērā ES mērķus attiecībā uz klimata pārmaiņām un ilgtspēju, ir žēl, ka gāzes projekti tika iekļauti iepriekšējos KIP sarakstos, pienācīgi nenovērtējot to ilgtspēju. Tas nozīmēja, ka tos nebija iespējams sarindot, lai noteiktu ilgtspējīgākos projektus. Tomēr Komisija veic nepieciešamos pasākumus, kā rezultātā turpmāka ombudes veiktā izmeklēšana šajā brīdī nav nepieciešama.

Decision in case 563/2020/MMO on the non-renewal of an employment contract with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)

Trešdiena | 28 oktobris 2020

The case concerned the non-renewal of the complainant’s employment contract after he had worked for 11 years at Europol.

The Ombudsman noted that there is no obligation on EU agencies to renew fixed-term employment contracts. EU agencies also enjoy wide discretion as regards their internal organisation, which includes defining the conditions for contract renewal. In this case, Europol followed the applicable rules and there is no indication that it committed a manifest error of assessment nor that it abused its power by not renewing the complainant’s contract.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry finding no maladministration.