Brussels, 18 December 2019 – Irish candidate Emily O’Reilly defended her position as European Ombudswoman today in the third round of voting. She rightly criticized former Commission president José Manuel Barroso for his revolving doors move to Goldman Sachs. She was also vocal on the intransparent appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker’s Head of Cabinet as Secretary-General of the Commission and criticised the intransparency of the EU Council. Last year, she strongly criticized also the behavior of the Czech Commissioner Věra Jourová, saying her statement was “unwise and inadmissible”.
“We are glad that this position will continue to be held by a person who cares about ethics and points out maladministration even to a Commissioner. It is unacceptable and strictly prohibited for Commissioners and their staff and advisors to lobby for the interests of individual Member States. Sadly the head advisor of the Czech Commissioner has been convicted of such behaviour in the past,” said MEP Mikuláš Peksa, who points out the fact that Věra Jourová’s advisor, Daniel Braun, in the past advised Czech ministers on how to deal with Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).
O’Reilly proved her independence not only in relation to the behaviour of the Czech Commissioner. “She rightly criticised former Commission president José Manuel Barroso for his revolving doors move to Goldman Sachs. She was also vocal on the intransparent appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker’s Head of Cabinet as Secretary-General of the Commission and criticised the intransparency of the EU Council. This may be the reason for why today’s vote was very tight,” said German Pirate MEP Patrick Breyer. “Congratulations Ms. O’Reilly – please keep up the fight for transparency and containing lobbyism.”
Any EU citizen or entity may appeal the Ombudsman to investigate an EU institution on the grounds of maladministration: administrative irregularities, unfairness, discrimination, abuse of power, failure to reply, refusal of information or unnecessary delay. The Ombudsman can not investigate the European Court of Justice in its judicial capacity, the General Court, the Civil Service Tribunal, national and regional administrations (even where EU law is concerned), judiciaries, private individuals or corporations.
The Ombudsman has no binding powers to compel compliance with their rulings, but the overall level of compliance is high. The Ombudsman primarily relies on the power of persuasion and publicity. In 2011, the overall rate of compliance by the EU institutions with their suggestions was 82 %. The EU Agencies had a compliance rate of 100 %. The compliance rate of the European Commission was the same as the overall figure of 82 %, while the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) scored 69 %.