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Decision on how the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) assessed the professional experience of a candidate in a selection procedure for EU staff in the field of audit (case 768/2021/ABZ)

Wtorek | 21 grudnia 2021

The case concerned how EPSO assessed the complainant’s professional experience in a selection procedure for recruiting EU staff in the field of audit.

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

Decision on the European Investment Bank’s response to concerns about it holding certain personal information of job applicants before recruitment decisions

Środa | 01 grudnia 2021

The case concerned a practice of the European Investment Bank (EIB) of asking job applicants to provide certain personal information, notably related to their family situation, before the EIB’s recruitment decision.

The Ombudsman recognised that the EIB had established this practice to make its procedures as efficient as possible. However, she expressed concern that the gathering of personal information was disproportionate and could negatively impact on trust in the EIB’s recruitment procedures. Not all applicants would necessarily be reassured that the personal information would under no circumstances play a role in their chances of getting the post.

The EIB replied that it had changed its practices to address the concerns raised by the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman welcomed the EIB’s constructive response, and closed the inquiry.

Decision on how the European Parliament dealt with traineeship applications from a person requesting special arrangements due to dyslexia (case 179/2021/VB)

Poniedziałek | 08 listopada 2021

The case was about how the European Parliament dealt with two traineeship applications from a person who requested special arrangements for his applications due to dyslexia.

After first having rejected the complainant’s application, Parliament decided to interview him and offered him a traineeship. As the complainant had a long absence from his traineeship for medical reasons, Parliament offered him the possibility to apply again. However, Parliament rejected the complainant’s new application.

The complainant took issue with how Parliament handled his traineeship applications and with how it informed him that he could reapply for a traineeship.

The Ombudsman finds that Parliament should have been clearer in its communication with the complainant regarding the possibility to apply for a second traineeship. However, she finds no maladministration in how Parliament dealt with the complainant’s traineeship applications. Similarly, the fact that Parliament deals with requests for special arrangements made by traineeship candidates on a case-by-case basis is a reasonable approach.

The Ombudsman makes a suggestion for improvement to Parliament regarding how it informs traineeship candidates of the possibility to request special assistance in the context of the application and selection procedure and of how they should make such a request.

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

Piątek | 15 października 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)

Czwartek | 01 lipca 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.