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03-07-2013

Emily O’Reilly elected as European Ombudsman

Emily O’Reilly (Ireland) was elected European Ombudsman on Wednesday. Ms O'Reilly was backed by 359 MEPs in a secret plenary vote. The European Ombudsman investigates citizens' complaints of maladministration by EU institutions.

Ms O’Reilly is the first woman to become European Ombudsman.

Four candidates took part in the second ballot, following the withdrawal of the candidatures of Markus Jäger (Germany) and Alex Brenninkmeijer (The Netherlands). In the third ballot, Members had to choose between Ria Oomen-Ruijten (The Netherlands) and Emily O’Reilly (Ireland), the two candidates who won most votes in the second ballot as provided by the rules. The other two candidates were Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (Germany) and Francesco Speroni (Italy).

On 18 June, all six candidates for the post were questioned by MEPs on what they could offer by way of independence, visibility and transparency, in a series of public hearings held by the Petitions Committee.

EU rules establish that the Ombudsman must "offer every guarantee of independence". The Ombudsman is usually elected by Parliament in a secret vote at the start of each parliamentary term. Ms O’Reilly was elected following the retirement of Nikiforos Diamandouros.

The role of the Ombudsman, established in 1995, is to investigate cases of maladministration by the EU institutions, including lack of transparency and refusal to provide information or documents.