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Procedure : 2004/2091(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0030/2004

Texts tabled :

A6-0030/2004

Debates :

PV 18/11/2004 - 4

Votes :

PV 18/11/2004 - 6.2

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2004)0065

REPORT     
PDF 146kWORD 76k
29.10.2004
PE 346.943v02-00 A6-0030/2004

on the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman for the year 2003

(2004/2091(INI))

Committee on Petitions

Rapporteur: Proinsias De Rossa

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 PROCEDURE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman for the year 2003

(2004/2091(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman for the year 2003 ,

–   having regard to Article 195 of the EC Treaty ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 November 1993(1) on democracy, transparency and subsidiarity and the Interinstitutional Agreement on procedures for implementing the principle of subsidiarity; the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman' s duties; the arrangements for the proceedings of the Conciliation Committee under Article 189b EC, and, in particular, the part thereof concerning the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman's duties,

–   having regard to its Decision 94/262/ECSC, EC, Euratomof 9 March 1994(2) on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman's duties and, in particular, Article 3(8) thereof,

–   having regard to Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–    having regard to Rule 112(1) and Rule 195(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–    having regard to the report of the Committee on Petitions (A6-0030/2004),

A. whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights forms part of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which was adopted in Brussels on 18 June 2004 by the European Council,

B.  whereas Article 41 (Right to good administration) in Chapter V (Citizens’ Rights) of the Charter provides that every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union,

C. whereas Article 42 of the Charter provides that every citizen of the Union and every natural and legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has a right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents,

D. whereas Article 43 (Ombudsman) of the Charter provides: ‘Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the Ombudsman of the Union cases of maladministration in the activities of the Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role’,

E.  whereas the Ombudsman's Annual Report was formally presented to the President of the European Parliament on 19 April 2004, and the Ombudsman, Mr Nikiforos Diamandouoros, presented the report to the Committee on Petitions on 26 April 2004,

F.  whereas in 2003 there has once again been a substantial increase in the number of complaints addressed to the Ombudsman, and a further increase is expected following the recent enlargement,

G. whereas the number of complaints to the Ombudsman where citizens have had justified reason to seek a remedy for lack of openness and transparency in the functioning of the European institutions is a matter of concern with respect to the democratic accountability of the Union,

H. whereas the Annual Report cites examples of individual cases where no maladministration was found, where European authorities have agreed to comply with the Ombudsman's recommendations once they have been made aware of the complaint, or an amicable solution has been achieved, but also highlights a number of complaints which the Ombudsman has had to close with a critical remark,

I.   whereas the Ombudsman has also acted proactively by means of own-initiative enquiries,

J.   whereas on 6 September 2001 the European Parliament adopted unanimously the European Union Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, recommended in a Special Report by the Ombudsman in April 2000; whereas the Commission has not adopted the Code,

K. whereas the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe contains a legal basis for a future law on good administration,

L.  whereas, in a contribution submitted on 23 January 2003 to the Convention, the Ombudsman stated that "replacing the Treaty by a Constitution, especially a Constitution that includes fundamental rights, requires profound reflection on the role of the guardian of the Treaty",

M. whereas the Ombudsman has emphasised already in his Decision on complaint 995/98/OV that, whilst the Commission enjoys discretionary powers in respect to the opening of infringement procedures, these are nevertheless "subject to legal limits as established by the case law of the Court of Justice, which requires, for example, that administrative authorities should act consistently and in good faith, avoid discrimination, comply with the principles of proportionality, equality and legitimate expectations and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms",

N. whereas as long ago as December 1999 the European Parliament received a request from the Ombudsman which aimed to amend the provisions of the Statute of the Ombudsman concerning his right of access to documents and the hearing of witnesses; whereas, although the European Parliament recommended amending these provisions, they have still not been amended due to reservations on the part of the Commission and the Council,

O. Whereas the Ombudsman, regretting the negative views on the proposal, suggested in a letter of 17 December 2002 to the President of the European Parliament that the services of the Ombudsman and the European Parliament jointly examine the question of the revision of the Ombudsman's Statute,

P.  whereas the Annual Report shows the efforts made by the Ombudsman to continue developing the network of national and regional Ombudsmen, with particular emphasis on the applicant countries,

Q. whereas the Annual Report notes that both the former Ombudsman, Mr Söderman, and the present Ombudsman, Mr Diamandouros, have pressed for explicit recognition in the Constitution of the role of ombudsmen and other non-judicial remedies,

1.      Approves the Annual Report for 2003 submitted by the European Ombudsman, which provides a comprehensive overview of the activities conducted during the year and a description of cases processed;

2.      Congratulates the first European Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman on the completion of his successful and challenging term of office on 31 March 2003; during his seven and a half years in office he fully consolidated the foundations of the Institution and helped over 11,000 citizens find redress;

3.      Commends the efforts of Mr Diamandouros who, since taking office in April 2003, has successfully pursued the objectives of enhancing the effectiveness of the European Ombudsman's Office and promoting good public administration, respect for the rule of law and respect for human rights;

4.      Regards the role of the Ombudsman in enhancing openness and accountability in the decision-making processes and administration of the European Union as an essential contribution towards a Union in which decisions are truly taken ‘as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen’, as required by Article 1(2) of the Treaty of the European Union;

5.      Recognises the Ombudsman's efforts in making his institution known to the public and informing citizens of their rights by means of distribution of materials, visits to the Member States and conferences;

6.      Notes that the Commission has responded positively to the Ombudsman's proposal that it should systematically provide information to applicants for, and recipients of, grants and subsidies, about the possibility of complaining about maladministration;

7.      Notes that there has been a substantial increase in the number of complaints, which highlights the success achieved by the Ombudsman in making citizens who are in contact with EU institutions increasingly aware of their rights in this respect;

8.    Notes, however, that there is still a level of confusion amongst the public regarding the precise scope of the Ombudsman's responsibility, since about 75% of the complaints fall outside his mandate; but notes with satisfaction that the Ombudsman tries in such cases to help the complainants by referring them to other bodies, in particular the Committee on Petitions or national and local ombudsmen, while continuing to stress the need for citizens to be kept properly informed through the various means mentioned above;

9.      Notes with satisfaction that in many cases European authorities have taken action to settle a complaint once they are made aware of the problem concerned and that in other cases an amicable solution has been achieved; continues to urge the relevant EU authorities to comply with the Ombudsman's draft recommendations to remedy cases of maladministration following an inquiry and to follow up the Ombudsman's further critical remarks in order to prevent similar cases of maladministration arising in the future;

10.    Notes with satisfaction that the Ombudsman has in four cases mediated successfully and achieved amicable solutions, offering a positive outcome that satisfies both parties, and a further seven proposals for an amicable solution were under consideration at the end of the year;

11.    Notes that, likewise in 2003, the Ombudsman presented a critical remark to institutions, in particular to the Council, concerning complaints about difficulties in obtaining access to documents; recalls that the Committee on Petitions dealt with this problem in a report concerning a complaint from the NGO "Statewatch", and that the Council had in that context given its assurance that it would in future respect the rules on access to documents;

12.    Calls on all EU institutions and bodies to fully implement Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to EP, Council and Commission documents(3) in a spirit of recognition that access to documents held by the European institutions and bodies is a fundamental right pursuant to Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and with the sincere objective of taking decisions as 'openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen'; stresses that the institutions and bodies of the EU should examine each request extremely carefully and on a case by case basis before the provisions on derogations from the principle of free access are possibly applied;

13.    Welcomes the Ombudsman's decision on public access to the agendas and minutes of the Praesidium following the end of the work of the European Convention; although Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on access to documents is not applicable, the Ombudsman is successfully ensuring that the principles of sound administration are observed;

14.    Recalls its resolution of 14 March 2003 on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001(4), in which it expresses its regret that the Commission continues to withhold the entire infringement procedure, including the correspondence between Commission and Member States, from parliamentary scrutiny, to the detriment of the effectiveness of Community law;

15.    Supports the call for the Commission to bring forward proposals to amend Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, especially in relation to access to legislative documents;

16.    Notes that, likewise in 2003, there were a number of complaints concerning lack of openness and transparency in the institutions' recruitment competitions, an area to which the Ombudsman has given high priority over the years, since so many citizens come into contact with the institutions in the context of a recruitment procedure; notes that some of these complaints have resulted in a critical remark from the Ombudsman;

17.    Notes with satisfaction that the Council, after two complaints to the Ombudsman, decided to follow the recommendation of the Ombudsman and give candidates in its recruitment competitions access to their marked examination scripts, thus bringing it into line with the practice in the Parliament and the Commission;

18.    Urges EPSO (European Communities Personnel Selection Office), the interinstitutional body that will in future organise most of the recruitment competitions in the EU institutions, to respect the rules and practices concerning openness and transparency in recruitment procedures that have been achieved over the years, mainly thanks to complaints to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman's recommendations;

19.    Notes that many complaints which have resulted in a critical remark from the Ombudsman concern delays in answering correspondence, failure to answer or insufficient or discourteous answers ; therefore reminds the institutions and bodies that adequate and correct communication with citizens is in their own interest;

20.    Notes with satisfaction that five own-initiative inquiries were launched during 2003, including one on the integration of people with disabilities, to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated against in their relations with the European institutions, pursuant to Article 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

21.    Recalls that Parliament adopted on 6 September 2001 a resolution on a Code of Good Administrative Behaviour for EU institutions and bodies, and that it has since then repeatedly insisted that this code be applied by all institutions and bodies; regrets the failure by the Commission so far to fully adopt and apply the Code;

22.    Recalls that on 25 September 2003 Mrs De Palacio, Vice-President of the Commission, when debating the Ombudsman's Annual Report for 2002 in plenary, referred to the fact that the draft Constitution for Europe contains a legal basis for a future law on good administration, which should be compulsory for all the institutions and bodies of the Union; agrees with the Ombudsman that the Commission should start preparatory work aimed at the adoption of such a law;

23.    Invites the Ombudsman, pending the implementation of the law on good administration, to work together with the Committee on Petitions in further developing, and ensuring implementation by the Commission of, the criteria for good administrative behaviour with respect to the infringement procedure established in the Ombudsman's Decision on Complaint 995/98;

24.    Is of the opinion that the Ombudsman should have unlimited access to documents in connexion with his inquiries; notes that almost six years have elapsed since the Ombudsman proposed changes to Article 3(2) of the Ombudsman's Statute concerning the Ombudsman's access to documents and his hearing of witnesses, on which the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 6 September 2001(5); regrets that a qualified majority in the Council has not been able to give its approval to this resolution(6);

25.    Supports the need for a review of the Ombudsman's Statute, as adopted on 9 March 1994, in the light of developments during the last decade, including the powers of investigation of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on access to documents, as proposed by Mr Söderman in a letter to President Pat Cox of 17 December 2002;

26.    Acknowledges the good working relationship between the Ombudsman's office and the Comittee on Petitions, including a process of mutual transfer of cases where appropriate, which led to six complaints being transferred directly to that Committee and a further 142 complainants being advised to submit petitions;

27.    Commends the setting up by the Ombudsman of a network of national and local ombudsmen and other bodies, to whom complaints that fall outside the Ombudsman's mandate are transferred; is of the opinion that it would be useful for the Committee on Petitions to have access to this network and to establish a similar network of petitions committees in cooperation with the Ombudsman's office;

28.    Encourages the Ombudsman to continue his efforts to establish, in cooperation with national and regional ombudsmen, a comprehensive and efficient system of non-judicial remedies for the benefit of European citizens who consider that their rights under European law have been violated;

29.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report to the Commission, the Council, the European Ombudsman, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and to the ombudsmen or equivalent bodies in the Member States.

(1)

OJ C 329, 6.12.1993, p. 132.

(2)

OJ L 113, 4.5.1994, p.15.

(3)

OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.

(4)

OJ C 47 E, 27.2.2003, p. 483.

(5)

OJ C72 E, 21.3.2002, p. 336.

(6)

Council Note 14782/02 OMBUDS 29 of 26 November 2002.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The European Ombudsman

The office of European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht Treaty and the right of citizens to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman forms part of the citizenship of the European Union.The Ombudsman investigates cases of maladministration in EU institutions and bodies. He has provided the following definition of the term ‘maladministration’ which has also been approved by the European Parliament: ‘Maladministration occurs when a public body fails to act in accordance with a rule or principle which is binding on it’. The Ombudsman is guided here by the rules and principles set out in the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour and in Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights that concerns the right to good administration.

Where the Ombudsman observes maladministration the case can in some cases be settled by the institution concerned. Where this does not happen, the Ombudsman may seek a friendly solution. Where this is not possible, he may close the case with a critical remark or make a draft recommendation. Where the institution concerned does not accept the recommendation, the Ombudsman may draw up a special report for the European Parliament. In addition, the Ombudsman is empowered to start inquiries on his own initiative in connection with systemic problems that come to his attention.

The Ombudsman’s annual report for 2003

The 2003 Annual Report admirably outlines the activities of the European Ombudsman office during the course of the year. It covers the work of the founder Ombudsman, Mr Jacob Söderman, up to 31 March 2003 and that of Mr Diamandouros who took up office in April 2003.

The rapporteur is delighted to recommend the Parliament's ratification of the Report. The activities recorded represent a key aspect of the democratic process and serve to embody the principles of transparency and accountability which must continue to be prime objectives of the European Institutions. As is clear from the 2003 Annual Report the Ombudsman makes every possible effort to empower citizens by informing them of their rights in this respect; ensuring their easy access to adequate redress where possible; and ensuring that the Institutions constantly adopt better working practices to eliminate the causes of such grievances where possible.

According to the annual report, 2 436 complaints were received in 2003, which corresponds to a 10% increase compared with 2002. The Ombudsman announced at the meeting of the Committee on Petitions on 26 April 2004 at which he presented the annual report that a 40% increase was to be noted for the current year. This increase shows that the Ombudsman has become better known. Both the previous and the current Ombudsman have themselves made a major contribution to spreading knowledge about their office. It can be recorded that the Ombudsman and his staff attended 80 conferences, seminars, etc. in 2003 and the Ombudsman has visited almost all Member States, both old and new. At the same time, however, there is little awareness of what falls within the Ombudsman’s mandate, since the overwhelming proportion of complaints fall outside his mandate. In these cases complainants are urged to contact other bodies, in particular, the Committee on Petitions and national or local ombudsmen. Investigations were initiated in 253 cases and decisions taken in 180 cases. In 87 cases, the Ombudsman concluded that there was no evidence of maladministration. 48 cases were settled by the relevant institution.

The annual report describes a selection of cases dealt with during 2003. A brief account of certain categories of cases is given below.

- Access to documents

The previous Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman, made a considerable effort over the years to achieve a situation in which the institutions make their documents available to the public

It should be remembered that Parliament has on a previous occasion received a special report on the problem of access to documents in connection with the recommendation to the Council in complaint 917/2000 by the British NGO 'Statewatch'. The Committee on Petitions drew up a report with Astrid Thors as rapporteur(1).

Complaint 648/2002 concerned the Council’s refusal to grant full access to documents relating to negotiations in connection with a proposal for a regulation implementing the competition rules in Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty. The Council had declined to grant access to certain sections of the documents by invoking Article 4(3) of Regulation No 1049/2001 which allows access to be refused if disclosure of the document would seriously undermine the institution’s decision-making process. These sections concerned the proposals and positions of national delegations. The complainant and the Ombudsman were of the opinion that it was sufficient to delete the delegation’s name and then to release the text as such to the complainant. The Council had deleted entire passages from the text. The case concluded with a critical remark whereupon the Council decided to grant the complainant access to the documents in their entirety.

Complaint 1015/2002 concerned, among other things, the Council’s refusal to grant access to opinions from the Council’s Legal Service. The Council declined initially to grant access to these documents by invoking Article 4(2) of Regulation No 1049/2001 which allows the institutions under certain circumstances to refuse access inter alia to legal opinions. The Council had given a general refusal. The Ombudsman requested that access be given to these documents and emphasised that a distinction should be made between legal opinions connected with legal proceedings which are normally not published and opinions on draft legislation which ought to be accessible to the public.

These two examples show that the institutions are still reluctant about granting access to documents and that they have not understood that free access to documents is the rule and that there is nothing automatic about derogations but that it is necessary to decide on a case-by-case basis.

In this context it should be mentioned that the European Parliament has clearly stated in its resolution of 14 March 2002(2) on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 that it disagreees with the Commission that continues to deny access to documents concerning infringement procedures under Article 226 of the Treaty. The Committee on Petitions has repeatedly and in vain tried to obtain information on cases where the Commission has, often as a result of petitions submitted to the European Parliament, opened an infringement procedure against a Member State.

- More openness in connection with recruitment competitions

The Ombudsman has over the years received a large number of complaints from citizens about lack of transparency and openness in connection with recruitment competitions. Since one of the Ombudsman’s chief objectives is to improve relations between the institutions and the general public and since a large number of citizens come into contact for the first time with an institution in connection with a recruitment competition, it is important that they receive a good impression. In 1999 the Ombudsman submitted to Parliament a special report on the Commission’s recruitment procedures on which the Committee on Petitions drew up a report with Herbert Bösch as rapporteur(3). The Ombudsman’s recommendation that candidates ought to have access to their marked examination scripts was accepted by the Commission back in 1999 and later in 2000 by the European Parliament. In 2003 the Ombudsman dealt with two complaints (2097/2002 and 2059/2002) on the Council’s refusal to grant access to marked examination scripts. Following a recommendation from the Ombudsman the Council too has now at last agreed to alter its rules. It can therefore now be said that all candidates in recruitment competitions have access to their marked examination scripts.

Complaint 341/2001 concerned the European Parliament’s refusal to inform the complainant of the names of the successful candidates in a recruitment competition and the points they obtained. The Ombudsman addressed a recommendation to Parliament calling on it to ensure that in future the institution produced such a list and, moreover, informed all candidates that such a list would be published. Parliament initially refused to follow the recommendation. The Ombudsman then decided to draw up a special report, following which Parliament chose to follow the Ombudsman’s recommendation.

The fact that age limits no longer apply in the institutions’ recruitment competitions is also thanks to the efforts of the Ombudsman.

Most of the recruitment competitions in the EU will in the future be organised by EPSO (European Personnel Selection Office). A recommendation should be addressed to EPSO that it also comply with the rules on openness and transparency which have been introduced not least thanks to the efforts of the Ombudsman.

- Cases of delay, failure to answer correspondence, discourteous language, etc.

A number of complaints could have been avoided if the complainants had received a satisfactory answer in time. Cases often arise where the institution has in fact acted correctly but has failed to explain to the complainant the reasons why it has acted as it has done. Such cases may give rise to a critical remark from the Ombudsman. A participant in a recruitment competition had not understood the difference between ‘having obtained the necessary number of points’ and ‘entered on the reserve list’ and was accused of wanting to ‘cheat’. EU officials can be inclined to forget that it may be difficult for outsiders to understand the way the institutions operate as well as EU jargon. Another case concerns an employee at the EU police mission in Sarajevo who was dismissed for misconduct. The dismissal was apparently justified but the person in question was not given an opportunity to express his view of the matter. Discourteous language may also result in a critical remark. The message needs to be got across to the institutions that proper and satisfactory communication with complainants is in their own interest.

Other issues

- The European code of good administrative behaviour

In 1999 the Ombudsman put forward a proposal for a code of good administrative behaviour for EU institutions and bodies. The Committee on Petitions drew up a report on this proposal with Roy Perry as rapporteur(4). On 6 September 2001 Parliament adopted the resolution(5) and thus approved the code with the proposed changes. Most institutions and bodies have adopted the code as a guideline for their relations with the general public. Since it is of the utmost importance that all institutions follow the same code, the Ombudsman and the Committee on Petitions have repeatedly called on the Commission to adopt the common code. During the debate on the Ombudsman’s annual report for 2001 on 26 September 2002 Commissioner Liikanen stated that the Commission had its own code which on many points matched the Ombudsman’s code and that the Commission was not in a position to propose a regulation containing the code of good administrative behaviour as the Commission had been invited to do. During the debate on the Ombudsman’s annual report for 2002 on 25 September 2003 Commission Vice-President Loyola de Palacio stated that the draft Constitutional Treaty contained a legal basis for future legislation on good administrative behaviour. The Ombudsman states in the annual report that, by way of follow-up, he wrote to the Commission President that this legislation ought to be prepared starting now so that it could be rapidly implemented when the Constitution is adopted. The rapporteur can only endorse this request, not least in view of the fact that the Constitution has in the meantime been adopted by the European Council.

- Inspection of documents and hearing of witnesses by the Ombudsman

Article 3(2) of the Ombudsman's statute deals partly with the Ombudsman's access to documents and partly with his hearing of witnesses. By letter of 13 December 1999, the Ombudsman contacted the President of Parliament with a proposed change to the relevant provisions. His view was that Article 3(2) imposes restrictions on the Ombudsman in terms of his investigative powers. According to the current wording, access to documents can be refused 'on duly substantiated grounds of secrecy' and access to documents from a Member State that are classed as secret may be granted only where 'that Member State has given its prior agreement'. In addition, employees of the institutions called on to testify must speak 'in accordance with instructions from their administrations and shall continue to be bound by their duty of professional secrecy'.

A report was drawn up for the Committee on Constitutional Affairs with Teresa Almeida Garrett as rapporteur(6). In the resolution it was resolved to remove the above restrictions. Pursuant to Article 195(4) of the EC Treaty, Parliament lays down the Ombudsman's statute after consulting the Commission and with the approval of the Council acting by a qualified majority. The Commission expressed reservations about the proposal and the Council was unable to approve it.

A delegation from the Committee on Petitions that visited Copenhagen on 17-18 September 2002 submitted the problem to the Danish Minister for European Affairs, Bertel Haarder, Council President. He promised to raise the matter in the Council. This happened at meetings of the General Affairs Group in October and November 2002. A qualified majority of the Council was unable to approve Parliament's resolution. However, the view was expressed that the Ombudsman's statute should be updated in the light of developments and of the implementation of Regulation No 1049/2001 on access to documents.

The Ombudsman does not broach this problem in the annual report, which is surely a reflection of the fact that he has not encountered problems in connection with his inspection of documents. The rapporteur believes that Article 3(2) imposes restrictions on the work of the Ombudsman, this being at variance with the confidence generally demonstrated towards the Ombudsman. The issue ought to be raised again in the new parliamentary term.

- Cooperation between the Committee on Petitions and the Ombudsman

There are regular calls for enhanced cooperation between the Committee on Petitions and the Ombudsman. Relations are characterised by trust and the will to cooperate, but apart from an agreement on mutual transfer of cases - which led to six complaints being tranferred to the Committee on Petitions and a further 243 complainants being advised to submit petition - it has to be recognised that cooperation is not particularly far-reaching in practice. Jakob Söderman himself put forward certain specific proposals for closer cooperation in connection with the presentation of the 2001 annual report, but these have not been put into practice. One factor hampering cooperation is undoubtedly the different working methods.

In 1996, the Ombudsman established a network of contacts comprising ombudsmen and similar bodies which, among other things, was meant to make it easier to forward on complaints that are outside the Ombudsman's terms of reference to those bodies in Member States that are best suited to deal with these complaints. The Committee on Petitions receives a large number of petitions that are declared inadmissible since they relate to matters outside the EU's field of activity. The committee endeavours as far as possible to refer petitioners to other bodies that may possibly be able to deal with their case, in particular, national ombudsmen and petitions committees. It is plain that the Ombudsman's network of contacts could also be of use to the Committee on Petitions. The scope for gaining access to this network or for establishing a similar network in the Petitions Committee, in cooperation with the Ombudsman's office, ought to be investigated.

(1)

Doc. A5-0363/2002.

(2)

OJ C47 E, 27.2.2003, p.483.

(3)

Doc. A5-0280/2000.

(4)

Doc. A5-0245/2001.

(5)

OJ C 72 E, 21.3.2002, p. 239.

(6)

Doc. A5-0240/2001.


PROCEDURE

Title

The annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman for the year 2003

Procedure number

2004/2091(INI)

Basis in Rules of Procedure

Rule 112(1) and 195(2)

Committee responsible
  Date authorisation announced in plenary

PETI
28.10.2004

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary


 

 

 

 

Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary

 

 

 

 

 

Motion(s) for resolution(s) included in report

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)
  Date appointed

Proinsias De Rossa
17.3.2004

 

Previous rapporteur(s)

 

 

Discussed in committee

26.4.2004

1.9.2004

29.9.2004

 

 

Date adopted

30.9.2004

Result of final vote

for:

against:

abstentions:

[13]

[0]

[0]

Members present for the final vote

Marcin Libicki, Marie Pnayatopoulos-Cassiotou, Proinsias De Rossa, Sir Robert Atkins, Alexandro Batilocchio, Alexandra Dobolyi, Janelly Fourtou, David Hammerstein-Mintz, Roger Helmer, Emmanouil Mavrommatis, Diana Wallis and Rainer Wieland

Substitutes present for the final vote

Marie-Hélène Descamps

Substitutes under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Date tabled – A6

29.10.2004

A6-0030/2004

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