Ombudsman: Complaints concerning the lack of transparency in EU administration

P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, the European Ombudsman has asked of the EU a more transparent and citizen-friendly administration. In 2009, more than one third of complaints that led to inquiries (36%) concerned alleged lack of transparency, including refusal to release documents or information. Other types of alleged maladministration concerned late payments for EU projects, unfairness, abuse of power and discrimination.

At the presentation of his Annual Report 2009 in Brussels, Mr Diamandouros said: “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.”

In 2009, the Ombudsman received 3,098 complaints from citizens, companies, NGOs and associations (3,406 in 2008). In almost 80% of cases, the Ombudsman was able to help the complainant by opening an inquiry into the case, transferring it to a competent body, or giving advice on where to turn. The Ombudsman opened 339 inquiries and closed 318 inquiries in 2009. In total, he handled almost 5,000 complaints and information requests.

Mr Diamandouros said the number of inadmissible complaints has decreased compared to 2008. This is mainly due to the interactive guide on the european Ombudsman website which helps people find the right address. More and more people are turning towards the Ombudsman.

Most of the inquiries opened in 2009 concerned the European Commission (56%), followed by the European Parliament, the European Personnel Selection Office, the Council and the Court of Justice of the EU. The Ombudsman was pleased that in more than half of the cases (56%), the institution concerned accepted a friendly solution or settled the matter. The number of cases in which critical remarks were made went down from 44 in 2008 to 35 in 2009.

Germany produced the greatest number of complaints (413), followed by Spain (389), Poland (235) and France (235). But relative to the size of their population, most complaints came from Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus and Belgium.

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