Posts Tagged ‘European Ombudsman’

Administrative and judicial oversight of trilogue transparency

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

An article by TrUE researchers Maarten Hillebrandt and Päivi Leino-Sandberg was recently published in the Journal of European Public Policy. The publication analyses the role played by the European Ombudsman and the Court of Justice in overseeing the fulfillment of transparency obligations in trilogue negotiations.

A trilogue meeting (photo credit: European Parliament)

European Ombudsman inquiry criticises Council’s legislative opacity

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly
Photo: European Parliament (via

Today European Ombudsman O’Reilly presented the outcomes of her own-initiative inquiry of the transparency of Council preparatory bodies in the negotiation of EU legislative acts. Significantly, the Ombudsman found instances of maladministration, which signifies the strongest sanction her office can provide.

The European Ombudsman’s concludes her inquiry with the observation that the current way in which the legislative procedure in the Council is set out, it is impossible for citizens to have timely access to sufficient information on the general development of legislative dossiers and specific inputs offered by the different member states. The Ombudsman concludes that:

“[T]he Council of the EU – through practices that inhibit the scrutiny of draft EU legislation – undermines citizens’ right to hold their elected representatives to account. This constitutes maladministration.”


EU Ombudsman puts pressure on the Commission to improve transparency of expert groups

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has recently demanded improvements in the Commission’s practice of consulting Expert Groups. Among other things, the Ombudsman has demanded legally binding rules to improve transparency and a balanced composition of the Commission expert groups. This recent initiative is part of the Ombudsman’s ongoing investigation into the systemic issues of the Commission’s practice in this area, which was opened in May 2014. It also adds to the transparency demands already expressed by the European Parliament last year.

The key demands put forward by the Ombudsman are:

  • The adoption of a legally binding horizontal framework for expert groups modeled upon the framework used by Directorate General’s AGRI for civil dialogue groups
  • The publication of a call for applications for every expert group
  • Stronger links and consistency with the EU Transparency Register
  • The revision of the Commission’s conflict of interest policy to avoid potential conflict of interest of experts who are appointed in their personal capacity
  • The provision of better and more timely information about the expert groups

If realized, this would be an interesting new development on the way to concretizing the concept of good administration in the EU. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Commission will be willing to abandon its until present “soft” rule-making approach regarding the consultation of expert groups. Among ACELG researchers Dr. Joana Mendes has been advocating the hardening of rules on participation in Commission rule-making.

This contribution previously appeared on the ACELG blog.


Council declassifies TTIP negotiating mandate

Monday, October 13th, 2014

cooperating-governements_usa_regulating_flagsNearly a year and a half after its drafting, on 9 October 2014, the Council declassified and disclose the Commission’s negotiating mandate for the free trade talks with the United States better known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Maarten Hillebrandt

The disclosure comes after much public controversy that accompanied the various rounds of talks that have taken place up until now, in spite of the document being leaked at an early stage. Various MEPs, the European Ombudsman, and outgoing Commissioner for trade De Gucht criticised the Council for keeping it under the fold. In its annual transparency report, the EP renewed its pledge to do all in its power to “ensure that future trade negotiations, and in particular the on-going negotiations with the US […] were more transparent and open for stakeholder involvement” (p. 12). The decision to disclose the document at long last has been met with praise by various actors.


European Ombudsman calls for “revolving doors” register

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

[In Dutch, translation here]

EU-Ombudsman dringt aan op draaideur-register

25 september 2014

img_3227_emily_oreillyDe instellingen van de Europese Unie moeten meer openheid geven over de besluitvorming en over onderhandelingen over handelsovereenkomsten, maar vooral over de uitstroom van Unie-ambtenaren naar de private sector. Dat stelde EU-Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly onlangs bij de presentatie van het jaarrapport 2013.

De Europese Ombudsman onderzoekt klachten over ‘wanbeheer’ bij de instellingen en organen van de Europese Unie. Hierbij valt te denken aan bestuurlijke onregelmatigheden, oneerlijkheid, discriminatie, machtsmisbruik, het uitblijven van een antwoord, de weigering gegevens mede te delen en onnodige vertragingen. Iedere burger van de EU en alle in de EU gevestigde organisaties kunnen een klacht indienen. De Europese Ombudsman kent ook de bevoegdheid om op eigen initiatief onderzoeken in te stellen. De aanbevelingen van de Ombudsman zijn niet bindend, maar oefenen wel druk uit op de betrokken instellingen. De Europese Ombudsman is volledig onafhankelijk (artikel 228 EU-Werkingsverdrag).


European Ombudsman Diamandouros prepares for retirement; sounds note of cautionary optimism about future of EU transparency

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

20091116PHT64553_originalYesterday, the European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, addressed the media about his time in office as the citizen’s advocate of good administration. Nikiforos, 70, of Greek nationality, will retire on 1 October 2013. He said that during his time in office, he “has witnessed the slow erosion of a dominating culture of secrecy among the EU civil services”, that is, however, by no means complete yet.


“EU Ombudsman Blasts EC for Denying Document Access”

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Issues of integration, especially of economic integration, and the attached debate on national sovereignty are ranking high among the EU’s perceived transparency gaps these days.

With integration under pressure, markets and civil society nervously follow the news. The UK’s current lukewarmness towards the European project and considerations to rephrase the terms of its engagement are one good example. This week, the European Ombudsman riposted the Commission for refusing to disclose a report assessing the access of UK citizens to fundamental rights stipulated in the European Charter of Human Rights (ECHR), FOIANet reports. The Ombudsman was quoted stating:

In view of the importance of the documents concerned for the rights of EU citizens, and the fact that the Commission failed to engage constructively with the detailed analysis put forward by the Ombudsman, this constitutes a serious instance of maladministration.

So far, the Commission has not come up with a response to the Ombudsman’s report, to the detriment of the requesting party, the NGO European Citizen Action Service.

 For the full article, click here.