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Decision in case 1708/2019/NH on the EU Publications Office refusing to publish a notice for tender in the Official Journal of the European Union

Vrijdag | 08 mei 2020

The case concerned the refusal by the EU Publications Office to publish a contract notice in the Official Journal of the EU because it contained text in more than one language. The complainant, who works for a Belgian cultural foundation, contended that the Publications Office had failed to give the legal basis for its refusal.

In the course of the Ombudsman inquiry, the Publications Office gave the legal basis for refusing to publish the complainant’s notice. It also explained how it handles issues of this kind.

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with the finding that the Publications Office had settled the aspect of the complaint that concerned the legal basis for the refusal to publish the contract notice. The Ombudsman further found that the Office’s explanations as to how it handles issues of this nature do not reveal any maladministration. The Ombudsman made a suggestion for improvement to ensure that language requirements are clearly explained on the Publication Office’s website.

Decision in case 773/2018/PL on how the European Union Aviation Safety Agency conducted a consultation on drones

Vrijdag | 29 november 2019

The case concerned the way in which the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) carried out a public consultation. The Ombudsman’s inquiry covered (i) the fact that the consultation was in English only, (ii) EASA’s web-based application to submit comments and (iii) the amount of time stakeholders had to submit comments.

The Ombudsman concluded that citizens who do not speak English were hindered from contributing meaningfully to the consultation. She therefore made a suggestion to EASA to review its practice.

At the same time, the Ombudsman found EASA’s system for submitting comments to be reasonably user-friendly and the amount of time stakeholders had to submit comments to be sufficient. The Ombudsman thus closed the case.

Decision in case 649/2019/TE on the Council’s failure to make available a German translation of a press release

Dinsdag | 16 juli 2019

The complaint concerned the fact that a press release containing remarks made by European Council President Donald Tusk on 6 February 2019 was made available in English, French and Irish only. The remarks were made following a meeting with the Irish Prime Minister.

The complainant had asked the Council to make available a German version of the press release. The Council replied that the press release would eventually be translated into all EU official languages.

The Ombudsman understands that it is the Council’s current practice to make remarks by the European Council President available in all EU official languages only in certain circumstances, for example when speaking after meetings of the European Council. Remarks made by the President following meetings with individual heads of state or government are generally made available either in English only, or in English and French, or in English, French and one additional official language. Thus, contrary to what the complainant was initially told by the Council, the press release in question was not translated into all official languages.

The Ombudsman acknowledges the need to strike an appropriate balance between linguistic diversity and administrative and budgetary constraints when translating documents. She also acknowledges that the EU institutions have some discretion in striking this balance. She considers that it was not manifestly wrong of the Council to make available the press release in question in English, French and Irish. At the same time, she considers that the Council should be transparent and clear about its translation policy and inform citizens accordingly. In this case, it provided misleading information to the complainant. This was regrettable.

Besluit in zaak 758/2017/MDC over het vermeende discriminerende taalbeleid van Frontex

Dinsdag | 02 april 2019

De zaak betrof een verzoek van een Italiaanse burger om een Italiaanse taalversie van een document van het Europees Grens- en kustwachtagentschap (Frontex) te verkrijgen.

Het onderzoek was gericht op het taalbeleid van Frontex in zijn externe communicatie. De ombudsvrouw adviseerde Frontex om algemene informatie over het agentschap beschikbaar te stellen op zijn website in alle EU-talen. Ze raadt Frontex ook aan om zijn talenbeleid op zijn website in alle officiële talen van de EU te publiceren.

Aangezien Frontex haar aanbevelingen aanvaardde, sloot de ombudsvrouw het onderzoek af, wat erop wijst dat Frontex zo spoedig mogelijk een meer omvattend talenbeleid voor haar externe communicatie zou ontwikkelen.