The European Ombudsman and Financial Accountability in the EU

Nikos Vogiatzis

Ombudsman institutions are considered as mechanisms of 'administrative accountability' (Bovens 2007: 456). The office of the European Ombudsman was created by the Maastricht Treaty, with a focus on maladministration in the activities of the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies (Article 228 TFEU). This includes supervision over the award of tenders and grants (eg by the European Commission) or supervision of the authorities responsible for financial accountability in the EU, such as OLAF and the European Court of Auditors. In this context, the purpose of this paper is to shed light on the activity of the European Ombudsman as a mechanism of financial accountability in the EU. The paper will cover,inter alia, relevant (and general) provisions of the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour (which includes the public service principles that should guide EU civil servants); cases aligning with the Ombudsman's general approach that with regard to tenders and grants, while the institutions (or the awarding committees) enjoy broad discretion, the Ombudsman's role is to check the procedural rules and the correctness of the facts, 'that there is no manifest error of assessment or misuse of power', and that the reason-giving requirements were complied with (Annual Report 2012: 45); (the interconnected theme of) the Ombudsman's understanding of the principle of sound financial management of EU funds; and inter-institutional issues emerging from the Ombudsman's supervision over other EU institutions or bodies.

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