Thursday

19th Jul 2018

Transparency complaints keep EU Ombudsman busy

  • The Ombudsman closed 86 inquiries last year that were about transparency, such as complaints about access to documents. (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Almost a third of complaints in cases closed by the European Ombudsman in 2016 were about transparency the Ombudsman said in its annual report, published on Wednesday (24 May).

The Ombudsman closed 86 inquiries last year that were about transparency, such as complaints about access to documents. In 2015, transparency was the subject matter of 62 closed cases.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The share of transparency as a topic increased from 22.4 percent to 29.6 percent.

The EU institution on which the Ombudsman opened the most inquiries was the European Commission - 144, or 58.8 percent, compared to 145 or 55.6 percent the previous year.

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly said at a press conference on Wednesday that the Commission topped the list “not because it is the worst performer in relation to administration”, but simply because of “the institutional role it plays in the EU”.

EU agencies, when treated as a group, were the second-largest source of inquiries opened: 32 cases, two more than in 2015.

The European Ombudsman has been receiving a fairly stable number of complaints that fall within its mandate, fluctuating between 698 and 930. The figure was 711 last year.

However, the Brussels-based organisation received far more complaints about issues it can do nothing about.

“The European Ombudsman receives many complaints on issues that do not fall within her mandate, mostly because they do not concern the work of an EU institution or body,” the report said.

“Sometimes complaints are based on the misconception that the Ombudsman is an appeals body over national ombudsmen.”

The annual report noted that 2016 saw a “record low” of complaints that fell outside of the Ombudsman's remit: 1,169. That figure had been as high as 2,768 a decade earlier.

The report said the decrease “was largely achieved through effective communication” about what the European Ombudsman does.

Brexit

The departure of the UK from the EU is expected to raise many questions and requests for inquiries.

The annual report noted that by the end of 2016 “the Ombudsman had received five complaints involving administrative issues related to Brexit, three of which concerned access to information”.

It also said that the European Network of Ombudsmen will be “setting up a common platform on how to deal with ‘Brexit complaints’ from EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa”.

Ombudsman probes secret Council lawmaking

Emily O'Reilly has launched an inquiry into whether the EU Council, where member states are represented, allows sufficient public scrutiny of the drafting of laws.

Ombudsman raps EU institutions on Catalonia

The EU Ombudsman's office says declarations by members of the EU institutions about the consequences of potential independence reflect no more than their "personal view".

Opinion

Are MEPs too 'free' to be accountable?

The European Parliament is currently fine-tuning its negotiating position on the Commission's proposal from September 2016 for a mandatory transparency register. Sadly, so far it seems to prefer empty statements to bold action.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us