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Decision in case 1233/2019/MMO on how the European Commission ensures that Member State governments spend European Structural and Investment Funds in line with the obligations stemming from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Il-Ħamis | 30 Lulju 2020

The case concerned the use of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI funds) for the construction of institutional care facilities for persons with disabilities in Hungary and Portugal. The complainant considered that the European Commission should have taken action on these projects, as it believed them to be at odds with the EU’s obligations to ensure people with disabilities are supported to live independently and to be included in the community.

The Ombudsman already had occasion, in the course of an earlier inquiry, to set out her views on the use of ESI funds on institutions rather than to promote independent living. The Ombudsman was encouraged by the Commission’s follow-up to her suggestions in that case, received in the course of this inquiry, and in particular the greater ambition it is showing for the 2021-27 programming period.

In this case, the Ombudsman finds that, as regards the first phase of the ‘deinstitutionalisation’ process in Hungary, the Commission has not acted in a sufficiently timely manner. Due to the lessons learnt in that phase, however, the Commission has shown greater caution as regards the use of ESI funds to continue the deinstitutionalisation process in that Member State. In the case of Portugal, the Ombudsman trusts that the Commission will act upon the findings and recommendations of the UN and the upcoming expert report in an effective manner.

On this basis, the Ombudsman closes the inquiry. She will now examine with the members of the European Network of Ombudsmen the need for further work in this area, in particular in light of the problems encountered in institutional care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also sets out three suggestions for improvement to address the issues identified in this case.  

Decision in case 83/2019/KT on how the European Personnel Selection Office accommodated a candidate´s special needs in a selection procedure for EU civil servants

L-Erbgħa | 27 Novembru 2019

The complainant is a visually impaired candidate who participated in a selection procedure for EU civil servants organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). She argued that, in a test, she was not given the special accommodation promised to her, which was a manual timer.

It was not possible to establish what type of device EPSO had given the complainant and whether the complainant had received instructions on how to use it. However, EPSO informed the Ombudsman that it was working on improving the information on special accommodation measures that it makes available to candidates.   

The Ombudsman closed the case with a suggestion to EPSO that it informs her of the updated information on special accommodation measures. The Ombudsman also suggested that candidates who are promised special measures be clearly informed, beforehand and in writing, about how they should proceed if they consider that there is a problem with these measures on the spot.

Decision in case 1848/2018/KR on the European Commission’s rejection of an organisation's application in a call for proposals which aimed to establish support for European networks active in the area of rights of persons with disabilities

Il-Ħamis | 07 Novembru 2019

The case concerned a 2017 grant procedure organised by the European Commission under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme. The complainant is the European Network on Independent Living (‘ENIL’), a Europe-wide network of people with disabilities, who applied for a grant under this procedure.

The Commission assessed ENIL’s application and decided not to recommend it for funding. The complainant alleged that the Commission had not evaluated its application fairly. The complainant also argued there was a lack of transparency preventing it from establishing in what respect its application for funding failed to meet the different evaluation criteria.

The Ombudsman inspected documents in the Commission’s file on the grant procedure and found no evidence of unfair treatment of the complainant. The Ombudsman concluded that the Commission’s reasoning and scoring in the assessment of the proposals was plausible and consistent.

The Ombudsman also assessed whether the Commission had provided the complainant with enough information about why its proposal was rejected. The Ombudsman found that the Commission had informed the complainant about why its bid was unsuccessful, including by meeting the complainant after the rejection letter had been sent out.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry finding no maladministration. She noted, however, that the Commission should give an entity seeking funding a full copy of the Commission’s overall assessment of the proposal, on request, including the marks awarded for each criterion and an explanation as regards why that mark was awarded.

Decision in case 1035/2018/AP on how the European Parliament dealt with a request from a staff member with a disability to be allowed to work remotely

Il-Ħamis | 10 Ottubru 2019

The case concerned the European Parliament’s decision to reject the request from a staff member with a disability to be allowed to work remotely to accommodate her special needs. Parliament argued that the complainant does not need to work remotely to be able to carry out the essential tasks of her job.

Based on her inquiry, the Ombudsman found that there was no maladministration by Parliament.  

Decision in case 1353/2018/KT against the European Personnel Selection Office concerning the rescheduling of tests of a candidate with a disability in a selection procedure to recruit EU civil servants

It-Tlieta | 02 Lulju 2019

This case against the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) concerned the rescheduling of the ‘computer-based tests’ for a candidate with a disability who took part in a selection procedure for EU civil servants. The complainant contended that EPSO did not communicate clearly to him how he could reschedule his test appointment. He further argued that EPSO was wrong to refuse to reschedule an appointment he missed due to illness.

In the course of the inquiry, EPSO informed the Ombudsman that, prior to the test, all candidates can make requests online to reschedule. In this case, EPSO assisted the complainant by directly asking the contractor carrying out the tests to reschedule his appointment twice.

The Ombudsman also found that EPSO was justified in refusing to reschedule the test that the complainant missed, as he had not provided a medical certificate proving that he was unable to attend due to illness. The Ombudsman therefore concluded that there was no maladministration by EPSO.

Deċiżjoni fl-inkjesta konġunta fil-kawżi 1337/2017/EA u 1338/2017/EA dwar l-aċċessibbiltà għal kandidati b’vista batuta ta’ proċeduri tal-għażla għar-reklutaġġ ta’ impjegati taċ-ċivil tal-UE, organizzati mill-Uffiċċju Ewropew għas-Selezzjoni tal-Persunal

It-Tnejn | 03 Ġunju 2019

Din il-kawża kienet tikkonċerna żewġ ilmenti minn kandidati b’vista batuta li pparteċipaw fi proċeduri tal-għażla għar-reklutaġġ ta’ impjegati taċ-ċivil tal-UE, li ġew organizzati mill-Uffiċċju Ewropew għas-Selezzjoni tal-Persunal (EPSO). L-ilmentaturi ffaċċjaw xi diffikultajiet bil-formoli ta’ applikazzjoni online, li ma kinux kompletament aċċessibbli għal persuni li jużaw “qarrejja tal-iskrin”. L-ilmentaturi qiesu wkoll li l-EPSO kien naqas milli jakkomoda l-bżonnijiet speċjali tagħhom matul it-testijiet ibbażati fuq il-kompjuter, billi ma setgħux jagħmlu t-test b’mod indipendenti.

L-Ombudsman sab li l-azzjonijiet tal-EPSO kienu jikkostitwixxu amministrazzjoni ħażina. Hija rrakkomandat li l-EPSO jagħmel il-formoli ta’ applikazzjoni online tiegħu kompletament aċċessibbli għal kandidati b’vista batuta mill-aktar fis possibbli. Hija rrakkomandat ukoll li l-EPSO jistipula skeda ta’ żmien dettaljata biex jiżgura li jiġu pprovduti teknoloġiji ta’ assistenza lill-kandidati matul it-testijiet ibbażati fuq il-kompjuter li jsiru fiċ-ċentri tal-ittestjar madwar id-dinja. Fl-aħħar nett, hija rrakkomandat li l-EPSO jinforma b’mod espliċitu lill-kandidati li ċerti miżuri għall-akkomodazzjoni ta’ bżonnijiet speċjali, bħal teknoloġiji ta’ assistenza, huma attwalment disponibbli biss fi stadji speċifiċi tal-proċeduri tal-għażla.

L-Ombudsman tilqa’ l-fatt li b’rispons għar-rakkomandazzjonijiet tagħha, l-EPSO aġġorna l-informazzjoni pprovduta lill-kandidati dwar miżuri għall-akkomodazzjoni tal-bżonnijiet speċjali tagħhom. Hija tilqa’ wkoll il-proposta tal-EPSO li kandidati b’vista batuta jkunu jistgħu jagħmlu t-testijiet ibbażati fuq il-kompjuter mhux fuq il-post, bl-użu ta’ teknoloġiji ta’ aċċess mill-bogħod. Madankollu, l-Ombudsman mhijiex kompletament issodisfata bl-iskeda ta’ żmien proposta mill-EPSO biex jagħmel il-formola ta’ applikazzjoni online tiegħu kompletament aċċessibbli. Għalhekk, hija tagħlaq l-inkjesta tagħha billi terġa’ tiddikjara din ir-rakkomandazzjoni lill-EPSO u billi tqis il-kwistjonijiet l-oħra bħala ssodisfati.

Decision in case 52/2018/KT on the allegedly discriminatory treatment of an applicant in staff selection procedures organised by the European Investment Bank

It-Tnejn | 18 Marzu 2019

The case concerned allegedly discriminatory treatment by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in its staff selection procedures. The complainant argued that she had not been selected for a number of jobs due to her disability.

While the Ombudsman has drawn attention in this case to a number of important and relevant provisions from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, she found nothing to suggest that the complainant’s applications had been rejected because of her disability. In the course of the inquiry, it became clear that the complainant had not been aware that a selection test that she had previously taken had remained valid for some time and excluded her from subsequent staff selection procedures. At that point in time, the EIB was not informing applicants of this practice. The Ombudsman welcomes the fact that the EIB is now giving all applicants very clear information about the validity of its staff selection tests.

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

Deċiżjoni tal-Ombudsman Ewropew li tagħlaq l-investigazzjoni strateġika tagħha OI/6/2017/EA dwar kif il-Kummissjoni Ewropea tiżgura li persuni b’diżabilitajiet jistgħu jaċċessaw is-siti web tagħha

Il-Ħamis | 20 Diċembru 2018

L-Ombudsman investigat kif il-Kummissjoni Ewropea tiżgura li s-siti web tagħha u l-għodod online li tagħmel disponibbli huma aċċessibbli għal persuni b’diżabilitajiet.

L-Ombudsman staqsiet lill-Kummissjoni dwar l-użu tagħha ta’ formati aċċessibbli (bħal “faċli li jinqara”), kif din tippermetti lill-utenti jipprovdu feedback dwar l-aċċessibilità, u x’taħriġ tipprovdi għall-membri tal-persunal dwar kwistjonijiet ta’ aċċessibilità.

L-Ombudsman hija sodisfata li l-Kummissjoni ħadet passi biex ittejjeb l-aċċessibilità tas-siti web u l-għodod online tagħha, u li hija impenjata għal aktar titjib. Huwa importanti li dawn l-impenji jiġu implimentati fil-prattika u li l-Kummissjoni timpenja ruħha li tieħu aktar passi. Għalhekk hija tagħlaq l-investigazzjoni tagħha b’sitt suġġerimenti għal titjib.

Recommendations of the European Ombudsman in the joint inquiry into complaints 1337/2017/EA and 1338/2017/EA on the accessibility for visually impaired candidates of selection procedures organised by the European Personnel Selection Office

Il-Ġimgħa | 14 Diċembru 2018

The case concerned two complaints from visually impaired candidates who participated in selection procedures organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (‘EPSO’). The complainants faced issues with the accessibility of the online application form, including the form for requesting measures to accommodate their special needs, as these were not fully accessible for users of screen readers. The complainants also considered that EPSO had failed to accommodate their needs during the computer-based tests, as the measures taken did not correspond to the requests they had submitted and did not enable them to sit the tests independently.

The Ombudsman finds that while EPSO has made efforts to improve accessibility of its selection procedures, the delay in fulfilling its commitment to deliver a new online application form meeting accessibility requirements constitutes maladministration. She recommends that EPSO ensure that its online application form for selection procedures is made fully compliant with accessibility requirements for visually impaired candidates as soon as possible.

Moreover, the Ombudsman recommends that EPSO explicitly inform candidates that certain options for accommodating special needs, such as assistive technologies, are currently available only at specific stages of selection procedures. The Ombudsman further recommends that EPSO set out a detailed timeline for ensuring that assistive technologies are provided to candidates during the computer-based tests which take place in testing centres around the world.