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European Ombudsman

ECAS’ victory in ensuring EU transparency

Press Release
Brussels, 06 November 2014

ECAS has won another battle over transparency in the EU decision-making process as a result of the European Ombudsman’s recent decision over an access to documents case. The Ombudsman has strongly criticised the European Commission’s refusal to grant ECAS access to background documents on the Commission Communication on the application of Community law. ECAS calls upon the European Commission to truly commit, both in theory and practice, to transparency in its decision-making process and to accept public scrutiny.

The Ombudsman has stated that she is “deeply disappointed” in the Commission’s conduct in this case, and has accused the Commission of “maladministration”. This is not the first such finding. In December 2012, in another ECAS initiated case , the Ombudsman also found the European Commission guilty of “a serious instance of maladministration”.

In light of this, ECAS’ director, Assya Kavrakova commented:

“The European Commission should provide easy access to documents when requested by EU citizens and organisations and put into action its own commitments to openness. I hope that Vice President Timmersman will live up to his claims that ‘transparency is a priority for the new Commission’”

ECAS will be renewing its request for access to the refused documents and sincerely hopes this will be granted as eventually occurred in the previous case. ECAS originally requested the documents from the Commission in November 2007 in an attempt to clarify how the Commission intended to improve and quicken its process for dealing with complaints from EU citizens about the application of EU law in Member States. In response to this, the Commission eventually granted access to only some of the requested information, refusing access to a large number of other relevant documents.

Not content with this refusal, ECAS appealed to the European Ombudsman in January 2009, claiming that the Commission’s stance on this matter was in breach of its commitments to openness. The Ombudsman reviewed the documents in question, agreed with ECAS’ position and at last, in August 2013, released a draft recommendation requesting that the Commission grant access to the documents in question. The Commission, however, refused to comply, merely reiterating its former objections and, in the Ombudsman’s opinion, not “even trying to refute the Ombudsman’s analysis”.

The Ombudsman has therefore now announced that she is:

“deeply disappointed that the Commission has in yet another case, shown a flagrant unwillingness to engage in a constructive dialogue on how best to apply the public access rules set out in Regulation 1049/2001”

For more information, please contact
Assya Kavrakova, ECAS Director
Tel : + 32 2 548 04 90

Download the press release

 

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