Selective publication of Ombudaman's Decisions to open and close an inquiry to a complaint for maladministraiton
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:
According to staff of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman publishes in his public website, http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/home.faces, on a selective basis an anonymised version of his/her Decision to (i) open an inquiry to a complaint for maladministration (ii) close the inquiry into the complaint.
If this indeed the case, it is respectfully submitted that this is a highly questionable practice for a variety of reasons, including that it provides to the staff of the Ombudsman the opportunity to sidestep the essence of a complaint, carry out a sloppy or a biased investigation and keep everything between the complainant and the Ombudsman.
Unlike the EDPS, in the context of an investigation the Ombudsman is obliged to keep confidential documents submitted to him/her by the complainant and the Institution, which means that the public's access to documents about a complaint under Regulation No 1049/2001 is prohibited. The public can scrutinise an EDPS investigation of a complaint by requesting from the EDPS documents pursuant to Regulation No 1049/2001. An example is the EDPS Decision of the EDPS case 0622-2008 http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/594/r....
Similarly, the EU Courts publish their Orders and Judgements in the Court's public website. The public is able to appreciate how Justice is administered by the EU Courts, and how seriously and meticulously the EU Courts discharge their duties.
The Ombudsman would be unique in all that, if his/her Decisions are selectively published. Since an Ombudsman Decision is not an act for which an action before the General Court is admissible, meaning that his/her Decisions are not reviewed by the General Court, the Ombudsman "enjoys" a legal framework that enables him/her to avoid public scrutiny about the diligence of exercising his/her duties. It is so simply because of the selection of which particular Decisions are published. This is an open door for investigating complaints in an unfair and biased fashion.
In view of the above, copies of the following documents are requested:
1. The internal guidelines, notes for the attention of staff, or equivalent, setting out the conditions and the criteria according to which an Ombudsman Decision to open and close an investigation are published in an anonymised format.
2. The documents drawn up in 2013 with the instructions, or equivalent, to the Ombudsman's website administrator to publish in an anonymised format the Ombudsman's Decisions that are found in that website.
3. Regarding complaints lodged with Ombudsman for which the complainant simultaneously submitted a complaint for the same "acts" of an Institution to the EDPS, and the Ombudsman is aware - or ought to have been award about the submission of a complaint to the EDPS - and for which the Ombudsman has NOT published in the public website his/her Decisions to open and/or close an investigation the documents:
(a) drawn up by the Ombudsman staff proposing to the Ombudsman not to publish his/her Decision about the opening of the investigation
(b) drawn up by the Ombudsman staff proposing to the Ombudsman not to publish his/her Decision about the closing of the investigation
(c) the Ombudsman's internal administrative act that resulted in not publishing his/her Decision under (a) above
(d) the Ombudsman's internal administrative act that resulted in not publishing his/her Decision under (b) above
(e) any other documents relating to concrete, double Ombudsman & EDPS investigations, for which no anonymised Decision has been published.
It is emphasised that such Ombudsman Decisions concern also EDPS investigations. By definition, the Ombudsman Case 264/2008/(WP)GG, to which the EDPS investigation 0622-2008 corresponds to, is the antithesis of the documents requested herein.
It is also pointed out that in view of the confirmatory application of 20/10/2013 lodged with the Ombudsman - http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/forme..., about the DG INFSO presentation of 18/2/2011 "EX-post Controls" and the associated audio recording - and the Ombudsman's handling of the whole matter, there are perfectly reasonable grounds to have serious doubts about the Ombudsman's integrity and honesty.
It all boils down in starting that there is an overriding public interest for the full release of all documents requested herein.
Mr. Aris KOLIMATSIS
Dear European Ombudsman,
Even though ten working days have run since the 22 October 2013, as it appears from the records of asktheeu.org the Ombudsman has not yet acknowledged the registration of my application pursuant to Regulation No 1049/2001.
The ten-day delay is in sharp contrast to the swift acknowledgement of the registration of the application http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/artic..., which took just three working days.
I would thus be obliged if the Ombudsman would swiftly acknowledge the registration of the application.
Mr. Aris KOLIMATSIS
Dear Mr Kolimatsis,
Thank you for your e-mail of 22 October 2013, carrying the title " access
to information request - Selective publication of Ombudsman's Decisions to
open and close an inquiry to a complaint for maladministration".
We understand that you would like to receive information about the
European Ombudsman's rules for publication of decisions on its website.
On the Cases section of its website, the European Ombudsman only publishes
material relating to what we call full-inquiry cases. The European
Ombudsman does not publish material relating to its fast track procedures
or to complaints that are not taken up for inquiry. In making this choice,
the European Ombudsman aimed at only informing the public of its
significant case work.
However, I would like to emphasise that decisions taken after
full-inquiries are indeed published on the website in an anonymised
version, without referring the complainant's identity, for privacy
reasons. For this reason there is no grounds to fear that the Ombudsman's
staff has the possibility to select or influence the criteria for
publication of the Ombudsman's decisions on the website. Because this rule
concerning publication of all decisions in an anonymised version is a
clear and straight forward one, I am afraid I have to inform you that the
European Ombudsman does not hold documents that specifically regulate the
above-mentioned practice, or administrative decisions in relation to
individual cases (your requests a-d). With regard to your request (e), I
am sorry to have to inform you that the content of the request is not
sufficiently clear to enable us to provide a response.
I would like to conclude that, for the reasons mentioned above, it is
indeed possible for any interested citizen to appreciate how the European
Ombudsman has dealt with a certain inquiry.
Finally, I would like to inform you that the case reference
number 264/2008/GG that you refer to in your request appears to be
incorrect. We understand you to refer to 3264 /2008/GG, which is also
available on the website
In terms of timing, the Ombudsman first publishes information on new
(full) inquiries that she has opened. If she later on decides to issue a
draft recommendation, that is published too. The final decision is
published together with a summary. The left column of the 'Cases' page on
the European Ombudsman's website provides a useful outline of the
categories of publications in this section:
Head of Registry
T. +33 (0)3 88 17 25 41
1 avenue du Président Robert Schuman
F - 67001 Strasbourg Cedex
T. + 33 (0)3 88 17 23 13
F. + 33 (0)3 88 17 90 62
3. European Ombudsman Home Page
4. European Ombudsman Home Page
Thank you very much for the very useful information.
The initial response has been interpreted as stating that no documents were ever drawn up by the Ombudsman.
The underlying substance of the Ombudsman policy of publishing only 'full-inquiry' Decisions will be the subject of a different application pursuant to Regulation 1049/2001.
Mr. Aris KOLIMATSIS