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Decision in case 193/2021/AMF on the European Anti-Fraud Office´s refusal to provide public access to a call for tenders for an EU funded project that was the object of an investigation

Torsdag | 17 juni 2021

The case concerned a request for access to a public call for tenders for an EU funded project that was investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office. OLAF had argued that providing the complainant with the call (which is already in the public domain) would damage its decision-making process and the purpose of its investigations because it would allow the complainant to identify the project in question and therefore the subject matter of the investigation. The Ombudsman´s inquiries team asked OLAF to clarify how its decision making process and the purpose of its investigations could be damaged when the call was public and the investigation was closed in 2019.

Taking into account the arguments put forward by OLAF in its reply to the Ombudsman´s inquiries team, the Ombudsman agreed that the disclosure of the call would undermine OLAF´s decision-making process and the purpose of its investigations. Therefore, the inquiry was closed with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case OI/2/2020/NH on the European Anti-Fraud Office’s refusal to grant public access to documents related to its investigation of possible links between Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and a family member of the Syrian President

Onsdag | 29 juli 2020

The case concerned how the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) handled a request by a journalist for public access to documents about an OLAF investigation into a tobacco product manufacturer and its possible links to a family member of the Syrian President.

OLAF invoked the general presumption that public access to the requested documents would be particularly detrimental to its ability to fulfil its mission to fight fraud in the public interest. OLAF therefore concluded, without assessing each document individually, that access to the documents could not be granted.

The Ombudsman found that OLAF had correctly applied the EU rules on public access to documents. After reviewing the final OLAF report in this case, the Ombudsman found that only one short section was relevant to the complainant’s request.  

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with a finding that there had not been maladministration by OLAF. She nevertheless suggested to OLAF that it assess the relevant section of the report and consider granting public access to it.

Decision in case 1235/2019/JF on the European Commission’s handling of concerns about an EU co-funded project in Malawi

Torsdag | 26 mars 2020

The case was about a project developed by a local organisation and co-financed by the EU in Africa.

The complainant raised concerns with the Commission about the local organisation. The Commission then contracted an auditor, who made a number of recommendations to improve the organisation’s governance. The complainant then turned to the Ombudsman alleging that the Commission had failed to ensure that the organisation implemented the auditor’s recommendations.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission had in fact followed up on how the organisation implemented the recommendations and that there was no maladministration. She invited the Commission to update the complainant on the implementation of the recommendations.

Beslut i ärende 193/2020/EWM om Europeiska kommissionens vägran att ge allmänheten tillgång till ett rättsligt yttrande i samband med en påstådd intressekonflikt i Tjeckien

Onsdag | 25 mars 2020

Ärendet gällde kommissionens vägran att ge allmänheten tillgång till ett yttrande från rättstjänsten som gällde en påstådd intressekonflikt för den tjeckiske premiärministern.

Den klagande ansåg att det fanns ett övervägande allmänintresse i att handlingarna lämnades ut. Enligt den klagande behöver medborgarna kunna ta del av innehållet i det rättsliga yttrandet så att de kan bilda sig en egen oberoende uppfattning om de berörda parternas agerande och trovärdigheten i de argument som framförts.

Ombudsmannen fann att allmänintresset av att det rättsliga yttrandet lämnas ut inte i detta skede går före allmänintresset av att skydda möjligheten för kommissionen att genomföra revisioner som syftar till att säkerställa att EU:s medel skyddas och att rättsstatsprincipen respekteras. Ombudsmannen konstaterade därför att inget administrativt missförhållande förelåg och avslutade undersökningen.

Beslut i ärende 724/2019/MIG om Europeiska kommissionens vägran att ge allmänheten fullständig tillgång till en handling rörande utredningar om potentiella intressekonflikter i Tjeckien

Onsdag | 25 mars 2020

Ärendet gällde en begäran om tillgång till en skrivelse från Europeiska kommissionen till de tjeckiska myndigheterna rörande utredningar om potentiella intressekonflikter i Tjeckien. Kommissionen vägrade att offentliggöra skrivelsen i fråga med motiveringen att ett offentliggörande skulle äventyra utredningarnas korrekta genomförande.

Ombudsmannen ansåg att kommissionen borde ge delvis tillgång till skrivelsen och på så vis dämpa allmänhetens oro och visa att man vidtar lämpliga åtgärder för att skydda EU:s medel.

Kommissionen godtog denna lösning och gav den klagande tillgång till de delar av skrivelsen som ombudsmannen ansåg kunde offentliggöras. Ombudsmannen konstaterade att kommissionen på detta vis hade löst klagomålet och avslutade därför undersökningen.

Decision in case 175/2019/PL on how the European Investment Bank handled a complaint about a project it financed in Spain

Måndag | 23 mars 2020

The case concerned the time it was taking the European Investment Bank (EIB) to investigate a complaint about irregularities in a project called “Castilla y León Climate Change”, which the Bank financed.

In the course of the inquiry, the EIB informed the Ombudsman that it had concluded the investigation.

The Ombudsman finds that the time it took the EIB to investigate the matter was reasonable considering the complexity of the issue. Thus, the Ombudsman closes the inquiry finding that there was no maladministration.