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Complaint of European Medical Association for a DG INFSO audit; fair, objective and impartial investigations of complaints by the Ombudsman

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Dear European Ombudsman,

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:

I. IDENTIFICATION OF THE DOCUMENTS

The requested documents concern the complaint that the European Medial Association (‘EMA’) lodged to the Ombudsman on 1/12/200 and was dismissed without an inquiry on 1/2/2011 (‘Complaint’). This was disclosed in the Judgment of the General Court in the Case T-116/11, European Medical Association v European Commission. A translation from the French of paragraph 58 of the Judgment is:

“58. On 1 December 2010, the applicant lodged a complaint with the European Ombudsman about maladministration by the Commission. The Ombudsman dismissed the complaint on February 1, 2011”

An examination of the Ombudsman web site shows that the Ombudsman dismissed the Complaint without a full-inquiry.

Copies of the following documents are kindly requested:

1. The Complaint lodged by EMA

2. All annexes and appendices to the Complaint

3. Correspondence between the Ombudsman and EMA, including annexes and appendices

4. The Decision dismissing the complaint without launching a full inquiry

5. The internal documents drawn up by the official(s) who examined the merits of the Complaint and concluded that no grounds for a full-inquiry were found.

II. REQUESTED DOCUMENTS ARE NOT COVERED BY THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF FULL-INQUIRIES

I refer the Ombudsman services to my arguments of the confirmatory application of 4/1/2014, http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/dg_in..., in particular section II that are incorporated herein by reference.

In redacting the documents, the Ombudsman has to account the disclosure of the facts by the Judgement, which means that factual information contained therein and disclosed in the Judgement is not to be redacted.

III. BIASED INVESTIGATIONS OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT DG INFSO AUDITS

The General Court ruled that the EMA legal action against the DG INFSO external financial audit was partially well founded. That is precisely why party was to bear its own legal costs.

Broadly speaking, the equivalent of not launching a full-inquiry about the Complaint is the General Court having dismissed the action as manifestly unfounded, without even a hearing (in a full-inquiry, this corresponds to the complainant’s observations to the first reply of the Institution).

Curiously, the Ombudsman did not find any merit whatsoever to the Complaint. In principle, the threshold for finding maladministration is much lower that the requisite legal standard to find a head of claim as well founded. Although in the absence of any information about the Complaint and the supporting evidence no definite conclusion may be drawn (EMA might also have argued better its case before the General Court), nevertheless one expects that when the General Court holds that an action has merits then a complaint for maladmistration for the same facts would have led to a full-inquiry. This is not the case of the Complaint, which gives rise to a host of questions.

On top of all that, the following are highly notable:

First, the presentation “Risk-based audits” of 18/2/2011 and the subsequent handling of the application under Regulation 1049/2001 about strongly suggests that the former Ombudsman was deliberately favouring DG INFSO in complaints against audits.

Second, the very little information that has emerged about the complaint 0725/2013/CK shows that in that particular complaint against DG INFSO no full-inquiry was initiated, even though in mid-2003 there was a mass of evidence in the public domain about the illegalities of the DG INFSO external financial audits, including the two false statements in the prior notification DPO-3338.1. Since the mere inclusion of false statements in statutory documents is a criminal offence and a grave infringement of numerous provisions of the Staff Regulations, any complaint against a DG INFSO audit is meritorious and ought to have led to a full-inquiry.

In view of all the above, the inescapable conclusion is that the Ombudsman services have probably examined the merits of the EMA Complaint in an wholly inadequate manner, even though DG INFSO audits were frequent ‘clients’ of the Ombudsman, which means that the services ought to have been very vigilant about any complaint against DG INFSO audits.

IV. OVERRIDING PUBLIC INTEREST

What is at issue is the very integrity of the Ombudsman as a body tasked to investigate complaints for maladministration. It is nearly certain that when it came to complaints against DG INFSO audits the former holder of the office and the services had some kind of unwritten ‘policy’ to favour DG INFSO and disregard the merits of the complaints.

Such kind of a policy is completely unacceptable. Hopefully, the new holder of the office will clear up the ‘mess’ about that particular ‘policy’. However, this cannot take place without full public scrutiny, because the services may come up with all sorts of excuses and the Ombudsman might be prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The full release of the documents (except personal data) will enable the full scrutiny of the acts and attitude of the Ombudsman services to properly investigate complaints against DG INFSO and DG CONNECT.

Yours faithfully,

Zois Zervos

Euro-Ombudsman, European Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Zervos,

 

Acknowledging receipt of your latest request of 15 January 2014 (reference
INC2014-003068), please note that we understand that your request is for
public access to the case file 2593/2010/TN, a non-confidential case. The
case handler is now being consulted on the extent to which access can be
granted.

The formal deadline is  05 February 2014, but we will of course make every
effort to respond to your request promptly.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

 

[1]Logo European Ombudsman
Peter Bonnor
Head of Registry
T. +33 (0)3 88 17 25 41
[2][email address]
1 avenue du Président Robert Schuman
CS 30403
F - 67001 Strasbourg Cedex
T. + 33 (0)3 88 17 23 13
F. + 33 (0)3 88 17 90 62
[3]www.ombudsman.europa.eu
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
2. European Ombudsman Home Page
mailto:[email address]
3. European Ombudsman Home Page
http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/

Euro-Ombudsman, European Ombudsman

Dear Mr Zois Zervos,

 

Please be informed that we are actively handling your request of 15
January 2013 (reference INC2014-003068) for access to documents,
specifically the content of the file on complaint 2593/2010/TN. The
complaint is non-confidential, but long (588 pages). The necessary
redaction work will therefore take some days.

 

We are sorry for this delay, and hope for your understanding.

 

Kind regards,

 

Peter Bonnor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Euro-Ombudsman, European Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Zois Zervos,

 

Please be informed that we are consulting the complainant about the scope
for providing public access to the content of the file of the case you
refer to. We will in due course let you know about the outcome of that
consultation and the Ombudsman's related conclusions.

 

I take this opportunity to remind you that the handling of requests for
public access to case files is not carried out under Regulation 1049/2001,
but on the basis of the European Ombudsman's Statute and the Implementing
Provisions.

 

Kind regards,

 

Peter Bonnor

 

 

[1]Logo European Ombudsman
Peter Bonnor
Head of Registry
T. +33 (0)3 88 17 25 41
[2][email address]
1 avenue du Président Robert Schuman
CS 30403
F - 67001 Strasbourg Cedex
T. + 33 (0)3 88 17 23 13
F. + 33 (0)3 88 17 90 62
[3]www.ombudsman.europa.eu
 
 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
2. European Ombudsman Home Page
mailto:[email address]
3. European Ombudsman Home Page
http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/

Euro-Ombudsman, European Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear Madam/Dear Sir,
Please find attached a letter from the European Ombudsman related to your
request.
The Registry

 

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