The European Parliament has adopted, with the Council’s consent and the Commission’s positive opinion, improved rules governing the Ombudsman’s duties.
The new regulation, adopted by the European Parliament with 623 votes in favour, 9 against, and 61 abstentions, establishes a renewed mandate for the office of the European Ombudsman.
The new rules align the performance of the Ombudsman’s duties with the Treaty of Lisbon. The Ombudsman will be able to launch their own inquiries whenever they find grounds for one, and will be able to propose solutions to the issues an investigation raises, namely in cases of repeated, systemic or particularly serious instances of maladministration. The rules also clarify the conditions for access to documents and cooperation with member states' authorities and Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. A new “cooling off” period is required for eligibility to the Office, and provisions for the protection of victims of harassment and whistle-blowers are now foreseen.
Parliament’s negotiator and rapporteur Paulo Rangel (EPP, PT) commented: “Today we have put in place improved rules for an important office of the EU. Simply put, the Ombudsman can now serve Europeans even better than before. But we have also made institutional history: Parliament exercised its right of initiative and managed to have all institutions on board.”
On behalf of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council, Secretary of State for EU Affairs Ana Paula Zacarias said: “The European Ombudsman plays an important part in our EU institutional framework, notably to ensure the trust of our citizens by promoting good administration by our institutions. The new statute reflects the evolution of the institutional architecture of the European Union, is in line with the Treaty of Lisbon and allows the European Ombudsman to exercise their duties under a strong and clear mandate.”
European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, said: “I warmly welcome today’s revision of the statute, as it not only consolidates existing good practices, but also puts more emphasis on important issues, such as harassment, whistleblowing and conflicts of interest. I believe this will improve the Ombudsman’s work, which will ultimately benefit all Europeans, companies and associations. I would like to express my greatest appreciation for the excellent work and cooperation between colleagues in the European Parliament, Council and Commission.”