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Decision in case 553/2020/VB on how the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) assessed the education and experience of a candidate in a selection procedure for EU staff in the field of financial rules applicable to EU budget

Fredag | 11 december 2020

The case concerned how the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) assessed the complainant’s education and professional experience in a selection procedure for recruiting EU staff in the field of financial rules applicable to EU budget. 

The Ombudsman found nothing to suggest a manifest error how the selection board assessed the complainant’s qualifications. The Ombudsman therefore closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration.

Beslut i ärende 2165/2019/MIG om Europeiska kommissionens vägran att offentliggöra två fakturor för utgifter i samband med ett officiellt besök i Buenos Aires av kommissionens dåvarande ordförande

Onsdag | 04 november 2020

Ärendet gällde en begäran om allmänhetens tillgång till handlingar med uppgifter om utgifterna i samband med Europeiska kommissionens dåvarande ordförandes officiella besök i Buenos Aires för att delta i G20-toppmötet. Kommissionen identifierade två fakturor som omfattades av begäran men vägrade tillgång med hänvisning till behovet av att skydda personuppgifter.

Ombudsmannen fann att begäran om tillgång kunde behandlas genom att lämna ut information om de aktuella utgifternas art och lade fram ett motsvarande förslag till lösning. Ombudsmannen föreslog också att sådan information skulle lämnas ut proaktivt under vissa omständigheter.

Kommissionen godtog ombudsmannens förslag till lösning och samtyckte till att proaktivt lämna ut information om arten avseende sådana diverse kostnader i framtiden.

Ombudsmannen välkomnade kommissionens positiva reaktion och lovordade den för de åtgärder den redan har vidtagit för att öka insynen i kommissionsledamöternas utgifter. På grundval av detta avslutade ombudsmannen utredningen.

Decision in case 948/2020/MIG on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency's (Frontex) refusal to deal with a request for public access to documents concerning its budget

Onsdag | 14 oktober 2020

The case concerned a request for public access to documents concerning Frontex’s budget. The complainant turned to the Ombudsman as Frontex refused to process his request because he did not provide proof of his identity in the manner requested by Frontex.

The Ombudsman found that the complainant’s request could be addressed by providing him with some useful information. She therefore made a corresponding proposal for a solution.

Frontex accepted the Ombudsman’s proposal for a solution. The Ombudsman thus closed the inquiry finding that the complaint had been settled. The Ombudsman is pursuing the underlying issue of proof of identity in the context of her inquiry into joined cases 1261/2020/MAS and 1361/2020/MAS.

Decision in case 784/2019/JN on the European Commission´s decision to reject certain costs in the context of an EU-funded project supporting education in Somalia

Tisdag | 13 oktober 2020

The case concerned the European Commission´s decision to reject almost EUR 50 000 in the context of an EU-funded project supporting education in Somalia.

The Ombudsman made the preliminary finding that the Commission´s decision was not fair. She made a corresponding proposal for a solution.

The Commission disagreed with the Ombudsman´s proposal and provided additional explanations for its position. The grant agreement, it said, contains a list of non-eligible costs including salary costs of the personnel of national administrations, at issue here. Declaring the costs eligible, although they are clearly ineligible, could create a precedent that the rules in question can be circumvented. In light of these and further explanations, the Ombudsman reached the conclusion that no further inquiries were justified. The grant agreement, read as a whole, supports the Commission´s position sufficiently.

However, the Ombudsman considered it regrettable that an organisation that successfully carried out a project in good faith and incurred the costs in question, should find itself in this situation. She suggested that the Commission consider how it could improve the clarity of the information in its ‘grant agreements’ with entities selected to carry out EU-funded projects, to avoid similar cases arising in the future.

Decision in case 1467/2019/MDC on the European Commission’s decision to recover funds from a charitable organisation that carried out a project aimed at helping refugees and asylum seekers

Fredag | 31 juli 2020

The case concerned the decision of the European Commission to recover funds that it had paid in advance, by way of a ‘pre-financing payment’, to an organisation that carried out a project aimed at helping refugees and asylum seekers. The Commission sought to recover the funds, as the pre-financing payment amounted to more than the proportion of the overall project costs for which the Commission was ultimately liable.

The complainant, which is a small UK-registered charity, wrote to the Commission asking for lenience, and requested that the Commission consider waiving the recovery or adjusting the terms for the repayment.

In the course of the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the Commission agreed to the complainant’s request that the sum be repaid by means of instalments.

Following this, and as the Commission had acted in accordance with the rules governing the grant, the Ombudsman closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration. However, given the circumstances of the case, she invited the Commission to reconsider if anything further can be done to accommodate the complainant’s requests for assistance.