Saturday

7th Dec 2019

EU watchdog sets out ethics code for eurocrats

The EU's 55,000 officials should be bound by a new set of "ethical principles", according to the head of the EU institutions watchdog.

In a statement released Tuesday (19 June), European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, said that the new rules would "help build greater trust between citizens and the EU institutions."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Ethics for eurocrats? (Photo: The European Ombudsman homepage)

The principles were first drafted in 2010 by national ombudsmen across the EU and have been finalised following a public consultation which ended last year. Diamandouros said he would apply the guidelines when conducting inquiries arising from complaints about the EU.

Although admitting that rules are "not new" since they draw on existing measures, the ombudsman encouraged MEPs, Commissioners, and EU judges to stick to the guidelines.

Alongside requirements for staff to balance a commitment to the work of the EU institutions, with professional integrity and objectivity, the rules focus on measures to avoid conflicts of interests. The guidelines stress that EU civil servants should not receive gifts or payment and should "promptly declare any private interests relating to their functions", adding that officials should keep proper records and welcome public scrutiny of their conduct" and should "take steps to avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts."

Last year MEPs called for a set of public service principles in a bid to increase public trust in the EU civil service, insisting in their report on the work of the Ombudsman, that this could "counter their negative image of the EU administration."

Public confidence in the EU administration is low according to a Eurobarometer poll published in 2011. The EU institutions scored particularly poorly on transparency, with 42 percent dissatisfied with their record on openness.

Meanwhile, Diamandouros presented his 2011 annual report to MEPs on the Petitions Committee on Tuesday.

The Ombudsman, who is charged with investigating individual complaints alleging maladministration by the EU institutions, received over 2,500 complaints in 2011, a slight reduction from 2,667 received in 2010. He initiated 382 separate inquiries, of which 47 found that there had been maladministration. As in previous years, the European Commission was the institution most targeted by complaints, with 231 inquiries, lasting an average of ten months, being launched against it.

Under the EU treaties, the Ombudsman has the right to initiate inquiries into the work EU institutions following complaints. However, although the revised Ombudsman's statute allows him to summon officials to give evidence and issue recommendations, its decisions are not legally binding on the EU institutions.

Ombudsman: EU database on fraud suspects breaches rights

The European Commission's management of a database containing the names of companies or people deemed to pose a threat to the financial interests of the European Union is trampling basic rights, according to the EU ombudsman.

Euroscepticism in decline, poll indicates

Euroscepticism is receding amongst Europeans who also want EU lawmakers to promote job creation and welfare schemes ahead of debt reduction, according to a poll published Thursday.

Von der Leyen warns on EU budget cuts

The new EU Commission president will tell EU leaders next week that they need to put money behind their pledges for border protection, defence policy and fighting climate change.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us