European Ombudsman: transparency a key concern for citizens in 2013
“2013 was a special year regarding the post of the European Ombudsman. Taking over from a long standing and well respected Mr Nikiforos Diamandouros was definitely a great challenge for Ms Emily O'Reilly, but thanks to her experience as an Irish Ombudsman, she started her work very efficiently. Within just a few months, she was able to turn this institution into a more accessible and user friendly one”, said rapporteur Jarosław Wałęsa (EPP, PL).
Parliament's resolution on the Ombudsman’s annual report for 2013, submitted to Parliament on 15 September 2014, was passed by 572 votes to 21, with 82 abstentions.
Guardian of transparency
The resolution notes that transparency-related issues once again topped the Ombudsman’s list of 461 inquiries closed in 2013 (64.3 %), up from 52.7% in 2012.
MEPs welcome the Ombudsman’s investigations, e.g. into the lack of transparency in theTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks, whistleblowing in the EU institutions and “revolving door”’ cases, which raise concerns that which senior EU officials taking private sector jobs in their fields of expertise may be subject to conflicts of interest.
Citizen’s right to good administration
In 2013, 23,245 citizens approached the Ombudsman’s services for help. Most found the interactive guide on the Ombudsman's website useful (19,418). Of these approaches, 1,407 were requests for information and 2,420 were registered as complaints (compared to 2,442 in 2012).
MEPs point out that the share of complaints concerning the European Commission has grown and call on it to take rapid action to improve its performance. They stress that all EU institutions and bodies should act promptly on the Ombudsman’s critical remarks and recommendations and call on the Commission to adopt binding rules and table a legislative proposal on administrative procedure in the EU institutions.
Raising public awareness
MEPs encourage the Ombudsman to make greater use of social media to raise public awareness of her activities and to promote the rights of EU citizens. To ensure equal access, the Ombudsman should pay attention to the needs of those without access to internet, MEPs add.
The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. Emily O’Reilly (Ireland) took office as European Ombudsman on 1 October 2013, after her predecessor, Nikiforos Diamandouros (Greece), retired.