Ombudsman annual report 2011
Number of complaints down but more cases opened
By Gaspard Sebag | Tuesday 29 May 2012
In 2011, despite a slight dip in the number of complaints received (2,510, compared to 2,667 in 2010), the European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, opened a record number of 396 investigations, up 18% compared to the previous year (335 inquiries opened).
Lacking the ability to sanction, the Greek national has been tasked, since 1995, to deal with complaints sent to him concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies - with the exception of the EU Court of Justice.
Last year, Diamandouros closed 318 cases, roughly the same number as in 2010. In 26% of all inquiries closed, the institutions concerned accepted a friendly solution proposal or settled the problem themselves. The ombudsman deemed that no further inquires were justified in 40% of cases closed. He found, however, maladministration in 47 cases, a slight increase compared to 40 cases in 2010. Cases took, on average, ten months to close, up from nine months in 2009 and 2010 but well below the 13-month average in 2008. As in 2010, one third of the cases required over a year to close.
The most common subject matter of the ombudsman’s inquiries remained lack of transparency, including refusal to release documents or information. Yet, the percentage of transparency-related cases closed went down from 33% in 2010 to 25%. Other cases concerned problems with the execution of EU contracts or calls for tender, unfairness and discrimination.
In 2011, Spain, with 361 complaints, overtook Germany (308) with the largest number of complaints, followed by Poland (233) and Belgium (190). Relative to population, however, the greatest proportion of complaints came from Luxembourg and Cyprus. Most of the inquiries opened in 2011 concerned the European Commission (58%), followed by the EU agencies taken together (13%), the European Personnel Selection Office (11%) and the European Parliament (4%).
In 2011, the ombudsman transferred 1,288 complaints to national or regional ombudsmen in the member states, the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI), the European Commission and other problem-solving mechanisms, such as SOLVIT or Your Europe Advice. n
The report is available at
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