Thursday

11th Aug 2022

EU must be more transparent, ombudsman says

  • Two high-ranking EU officials accepted Ruby World Cup tickets from a sportswear manufacturer (Photo: gepiblu)

The European Union's ombudsman has in his annual report called on EU institutions to be more transparent and citizen-friendly.

Some 36 percent of the 3,100 complaints he received in 2009 were related to an alleged lack of transparency, including refusal to release documents or information, particularly from the European Commission.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Most of the enquiries by ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros concerned the EU executive (some 56 percent of cases), followed by the European Parliament, the European Personnel Selection Office, the Council and the Court of Justice of the EU.

At the same time, the ombudsman said he was pleased that in more than half of the cases the institution concerned accepted a friendly solution or settled the matter and the number of cases in which critical remarks were made went down from 44 in 2008 to 35 in 2009.

He added that the introduction of the EU's charter of rights along with the passage of the Lisbon Treaty last year, he intends to step his work chasing down instances where the EU is not adhering to these principles.

"The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is now legally binding and contains the citizens' right to good administration and the right of access to documents. I will increase my efforts to ensure that these rights are taken seriously by the EU administration."

Germany produced the greatest number of complaints of all the member states, on 413, followed by Spain (389), Poland (235) and France (235).

However, relative to the size of their population, most complaints came from Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus and Belgium.

Emphasising the need to not only be free of conflict of interest but also to appear to be free of such conflicts, Mr Diamandouros highlighted the case of a pair of high-ranking commission officials who last November accepted VIP tickets to the Rugby World Cup from a sportswear supplier.

During his investigation, the ombudsman found no evidence to suggest any actual conflict of interest, but he stressed the importance of the institutions maintaining "public confidence in its work and to protect its staff from unjustified suspicion."

In the end, the commission agreed with the ombudsman's proposal to acknowledge that it would have been better not to allow its officials to accept the tickets.

Mr Diamandouros welcomed the commission's announcement that it will update its internal rules on accepting gifts and hospitality.

"I encourage the commission to publish the updated rules in order to help strengthen public confidence in the EU institutions," he said of the rugby tickets case.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  2. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive
  3. Another migrant tragedy claims 50 lives in Greek waters
  4. Russia hits area near town with 120 rockets, says Ukraine
  5. UN expects more ships to get Ukrainian grain out
  6. Greece to end bailout-era oversight
  7. Denmark to train Ukrainian soldiers in urban warfare
  8. Russian helicopter flies into Estonia's airspace

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  2. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  3. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia
  4. EU Commission shrugs off Polish threats on rule-of-law
  5. EU urged to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians
  6. Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox
  7. Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought
  8. West needs to counter Russia in Africa, but how?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us