(CN) – The EU ombudsman handled more than 22,000 inquiries and fielded 2,510 complaints into “maladministration” by government agencies in 2011, a new report shows.
European Ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros said his office received slightly fewer complaints than it did in 2010, but launched a record number of investigations last year – 396 compared with 335 in 2010, an increase of 18 percent. The majority of complaints concerned a lack of transparency in EU government, including refusals to release documents or information, Diamandouros said in a statement.
But government transparency improved in 2011, according to the ombudsman.
“A welcome development this year was that the percentage of transparency-related cases decreased from 33% in 2010 to 25%,” the report states. “Other cases concerned problems with the execution of EU contracts or calls for tender, unfairness, and discrimination.”
Diamandouros said that his office achieved a positive outcome in 66 percent of the 212 cases closed last year. He found maladministration in 47 cases, a slight increase over the 40 found in 2010. The EU Commission accounted for 58 percent of the cases, and another 28 percent of the ombudsman’s inquiries concerned other agencies, according to the ombudsman.
Though Spain overtook Germany in number of complaints, Luxembourg and Cypress lodged the most actions, relative to population, Diamandouros said. He added that his office was able to transfer almost half of the complaints to local and regional problem-solving agencies throughout the EU.
A 2011 Eurobarometer survey confirmed the value EU citizens place on their “fundamental right to complain to the European ombudsman,” the agency said.
“Only the right to move and reside freely in the Union and the new right to good administration laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU ranked higher for citizens in terms of importance,” the agency’s annual report states. “The responses to the survey strengthen the Ombudsman’s role as a crucial link between European citizens and the EU administration.”