Saturday

18th Nov 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

EU data chief: MEPs must accept transparency

Europe's top data protection chief says politicians have to accept transparency. His comments follows a case pitting journalists against the European Parliament, which refuses to disclose MEPs' expenses.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse