Officially the Dutch hardly complain about Europe. The Netherlands submitted sixty complaints last years about European authorities to the European Ombudsman, less than smaller states like Greece and Romania.
This is evident from the 2010 annual report of the European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, which was published Monday.
In 2010, the European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, received the greatest number of complaints about the EU administration from German (375) and Spanish (349) citizens, companies, NGOs, and associations. Relative to the population, however, the greatest proportion of complaints came from Luxembourg, Cyprus, and Belgium.
In total, the Ombudsman received 2 667 complaints in 2010, compared to 3 098 in 2009. The number of complaints received, which lay outside his mandate, decreased by more than 400. This reduction was achieved thanks to the Interactive Guide on the Ombudsman’s website, which advises users of where to turn to seek redress, be it at the European, national, or regional level.
In over 70% of all cases, the Ombudsman was able to help the complainants by opening an inquiry, transferring a case to the competent body, or giving advice on where to turn. The number of opened inquiries (335) and closed inquiries (326) remained stable in 2010 as compared to the previous year.
The most common subject matter of inquiries closed by the Ombudsman in 2010 was lack of transparency in the EU administration (33%), including refusal to release documents or information. Other cases concerned problems with the execution of EU contracts or calls for tender, unfairness, abuse of power, or discrimination.
At the presentation of his Annual Report 2010 in Brussels, Mr Diamandouros said: “The Ombudsman’s main priority is to help the EU administration to become more open, proactive, accountable, and citizen-friendly, in order to increase citizens’ trust in the European public service. Quite a lot remains to be done in this respect. I am, however, delighted that in more than half of the cases I closed in 2010, the institution concerned accepted a friendly solution proposal or settled the matter.”
In 2010, the Ombudsman issued 33 critical remarks (35 in 2009) and sent one Special Report to the European Parliament concerning the failure of the Commission to cooperate sincerely and in good faith with him in an access to documents case (see case examples).
Most of the inquiries opened in 2010 concerned the European Commission (65%), followed by the European Personnel Selection Office (10%), the European Parliament (7%), and the Council (2%). Taken together, the EU Agencies accounted for 10 % of all inquiries opened in 2010.
The Ombudsman’s Overview 2010 (in the 23 official EU languages) and the full Annual Report 2010 (in English) are available at: http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/activities/annualreports.faces