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Decision on the time taken by the European Commission to handle an appeal concerning the decision to apply a ‘medical reserve’ on a newly recruited staff member (case 1609/2021/VS)

Vrijdag | 15 juli 2022

The case concerned the time taken by the European Commission to deal with an appeal concerning its decision to apply a ‘medical reserve’ on a newly recruited staff member.

The Ombudsman wrote to the Commission reminding it that principles of good administration require EU institutions to take decisions within a reasonable time frame and that this is particularly important when the decision is related to the health of the person concerned and to social security cover.

Following updates from the Commission and the complainant showing that the Commission took a final decision on the appeal in March 2022, the Ombudsman closed the inquiry with the conclusion that the substantive matter has been settled. The Ombudsman expects the Commission in future to handle similar procedures in a timely manner.

 

Decision on how the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) handled a complaint about the English test in a staff selection procedure (case 1913/2020/MMO)

Donderdag | 28 oktober 2021

The case concerned the assessment of the complainant’s English language skills in a selection procedure organised by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The complainant failed the oral part of the English test but was not convinced by the reasons given by the contracted test provider and Frontex.

The Ombudsman found that Frontex’s procedure for dealing with review requests and administrative complaints in relation to the language knowledge assessment done by its contractor was largely fit for purpose. Specifically in this case, Frontex’s actions were reasonable. However, in order for the review procedure to be fully effective, the contractor would have to provide Frontex with sufficiently detailed information about its assessment to allow Frontex to detect, on the basis of the concerns put forward by a candidate, indications of substantive errors. The Ombudsman is not convinced that this is the case at present.

In order to avoid similar problems arising in the future, the Ombudsman made a suggestion for improvement and closed the inquiry.

Decision in case 338/2020/VB on the European Personnel Selection Office’s decision not to admit a candidate to the next phase of a selection procedure for security officers for the EU institutions

Maandag | 13 juli 2020

The case concerned the European Personnel Selection Office’s decision not to admit the complainant to the next phase of a selection procedure for security officers due to his lack of professional experience.

The Ombudsman found that the selection board had examined the information provided in the complainant’s application and assessed it against the eligibility criteria. The Ombudsman did not identify a manifest error in how the selection board assessed the application, and closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Besluit in zaak 222/2020/EWM over de wijze waarop het Europees Geneesmiddelenbureau de vergunning voor het geneesmiddel Kalydeco voor gebruik door kinderen met een specifieke vorm van taaislijmziekte heeft behandeld

Woensdag | 03 juni 2020

De zaak betrof de wijze waarop het Europees Geneesmiddelenbureau (European Medicines Agency, EMA) een verzoek om een vergunning voor een geneesmiddel met de naam Kalydeco heeft behandeld. Kalydeco wordt gebruikt voor de behandeling van taaislijmziekte, een ernstige ziekte die wordt veroorzaakt door een aantal verschillende genmutaties.

De klager, wiens driejarige zoon een specifieke vorm van taaislijmziekte heeft, uitte haar zorgen over het feit dat het EMA vertragingen had opgelopen bij de goedkeuring van het geneesmiddel voor gebruik bij kinderen met deze specifieke vorm van taaislijmziekte.

Tijdens het onderzoek heeft het EMA op 20 april 2020 de klager en de Ombudsman ervan in kennis gesteld dat de wetenschappelijke deskundigen, na onderzoek van alle wetenschappelijke en medische bewijzen die zij nodig hadden, Kalydeco hadden goedgekeurd voor gebruik bij kinderen met de vorm van taaislijmziekte waaraan het kind van de klager lijdt.

De Ombudsman stelde vast dat er geen ongerechtvaardigde vertragingen waren opgetreden. Het EMA was bovendien duidelijk en transparant en gaf blijk van grote zorgvuldigheid in de contacten met de klager.

De Ombudsman concludeerde dat er geen sprake was van wanbeheer door het EMA en sloot het onderzoek af.

Decision in case 1481/2019/MH on how the European Commission dealt with an infringement complaint against the Netherlands concerning the importation of potentially unsafe lighters

Vrijdag | 06 maart 2020

The case concerned the time taken by the European Commission to deal with a complaint from a manufacturer of lighters alleging that the Netherlands was infringing EU law. The complainant was particularly concerned that the Commission had not taken the next formal step in the procedure since July 2014, when it had asked the Netherlands for further information about the case.

The Ombudsman acknowledges that more than nine years to conduct an investigation into an infringement complaint is a very long time. However, based on the Commission’s extensive information gathering and its analysis, and the extent of its engagement with the Dutch authorities and the complainant, the Ombudsman has not found undue delay in the Commission’s handling of this case. Over the nine-year period, the Commission had approximately six rounds of information gathering with the Netherlands, while the complainant submitted reports and studies on more than 18 occasions. The complainant also met with the Commission at least 13 times.

As the Commission has now sent a letter to the complainant informing it of its intention to close the case, the Ombudsman considers that no further inquiries are justified.

Decision in case 41/2019/NH on the European Commission’s decision to recover an overpaid amount of child allowances from a staff member

Vrijdag | 11 oktober 2019

The case concerned the European Commission’s decision to recover from a staff member an overpaid amount of EU child allowances. The allowances had been paid for the children of the staff member’s husband. The decision was based on the fact that national child allowances paid to the former wife of the staff member’s husband had not been deducted from the EU allowances.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission was entitled to recover the amounts because the staff member should have realised that she was being paid too much. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 757/2017/NF on how the European External Action Service grants certain benefits to its staff having worked in an EU delegation in a non-EU country

Donderdag | 27 juni 2019

The case concerned the practice the European External Action Service (EEAS) has in place for granting certain benefits to staff members who are re-assigned to its headquarters in Brussels after having worked in an EU delegation in a non-EU country.

The complainant, an EEAS staff member who was transferred from a non-EU country to an EU delegation within the EU, considered that the EEAS was wrong not to grant him those benefits for the sole reason that his place of employment was not Brussels.

The Ombudsman found that the EEAS’s approach to granting the benefits is reasonable in light of its mobility policy for staff. However, to improve the framework the EEAS has in place in this area, the Ombudsman makes three suggestions for improvement.