Friday

3rd Jul 2020

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. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

EU parliament chairs explain missing lobbyist meetings

MEPs in January 2019 agreed to a rule change in a bid for greater transparency. The rules included requiring committee chairs to publish their meetings with registered lobbyists. EUobserver spoke to six chairs, who haven't done so yet.

News in Brief

  1. French prime minister and government resign
  2. France lied on Nato naval clash, Turkey claims
  3. EU highlights abuses in recent Russia vote
  4. Belgium bids to host EU mask stockpile
  5. France shamed on refugees by European court
  6. French and Dutch police take down criminal phone network
  7. EU launches infringement case on Covid-19 cancelled trips
  8. Michel to propose smaller EU budget, keep recovery figure

MEP in police protection after Czech PM calls him 'traitor'

Three MEPs received numerous death threats in the Czech Republic for asking questions about how EU funds are being spent. One of them had his entire family under police protection after people threatened to murder his four children.

Black MEP: 'I have been a victim of police violence'

MEPs urged an end to structural racism and discrimination in Europe and the US, following the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by US police. Socialists and Green MEPs stressed the need to unblock the anti-discrimination directive.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us