European Ombudsman helps companies against EU maladministration

Triniti

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been full members of the European Union for over ten years now and our companies are becoming rather well acquainted with the majority of EU institutions but only a few know about the existence, tasks and competence of the European Ombudsman.

All EU companies can submit complaints

Namely, all companies, other associations and organizations whose registered office is in the European Union may submit complaints to the European Ombudsman in case of maladministration and administrative incompetence of the EU institutions and bodies (exc. the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Ombudsman, located in Strasbourg, France investigates complaints caused by the maladministration of EU institutions and bodies, including administrative inadequacy or low administrative capacity. Situations where the principle of good administration is not complied with, fundamental rights are violated or some EU institution behaves in an unlawful manner are, inter alia, payment delays, contractual disputes, problems with invitations to tender, refusal to grant access to information, unjustified delay upon implementation of administration, etc.

The European Ombudsman cannot investigate the complaints submitted with regard to the authorities of the member states (incl. local governments), the activities of national courts, the activities of national ombudsmen or the complaints submitted against other companies or persons.

Limitation period is 2 years and EU institutions have to be contacted in advance

It is important to bear in mind that it is not possible to submit a complaint to the Ombudsman if more than 2 years have passed from the alleged event or if, before the submission of the complaint, the relevant EU institution has not been previously contacted in writing to solve one’s complaint (incl. to obtain compensation), and also if national proceedings in the same matter are still pending.

No separate payment or fee is charged for submitting complaints to the Ombudsman; in order to submit complaints, a helpful questionnaire and a complaint form are available on the official homepage www.ombudsman.europa.eu and the proceedings are generally relatively fast.

Typical cases in respect of which the Ombudsman can help

Usual cases concerning which the Ombudsman is approached involve the payment delays of the European Commission upon performance of its contractual obligations, problems with EU tender procedures, including the qualification criteria set out in invitations to tender, implementation of unreasonable conditions and time limits on contractual partners, denying access to documents or unreasonable restriction of access, unjustified delays in adopting or formalising decisions by the EU institutions, problems upon application of fundamental rights like the presumption of innocence, fair and equal treatment, etc.

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