Madrid, 2 July 2013 – Today, a group of European civil society organisations, concerned by the nomination of MEPs in the EU Ombudsman election, sent a letter to MEPs calling on them to vote for an impartial and independent Ombudsman during the July plenary session.

The election of the EU Ombudsman is being fought by 6 candidates; Alex Brenninkmeijer (The Netherlands), Markus Jaeger (Germany), Ria Oomen-Ruijten (The Netherlands), Emily O’Reilly (Ireland), Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (Germany), Francesco Speroni (Italy).

You can read a copy of the letter, also signed by Access Info, below.

Don’t politicise the European Ombudsman institution

As long-standing supporters of the Ombudsman institution, we are dismayed that the two largest groups in the European Parliament are politicising the election of the next Ombudsman by putting forward members of their groups for the position.

Article 9.2 of the Ombudsman’s Statute states that “When taking up his duties, the Ombudsman shall give a solemn undertaking […] that he will perform his duties with complete independence and impartiality.”

We do not wish to cast doubt on the MEPs who have put themselves forward. However, unless the European Ombudsman is not only independent and impartial but is also seen to be independent and impartial by the public, many citizens will not turn to the Ombudsman with their complaints. Citizens are very unlikely to see MEPs with over 25 years of party loyalty as being independent and impartial. And many will not trust those with such long-standing links with the EU institutions to deal with complaints in a fair and objective way. This is not a criticism of those MEPs who have chosen to stand. It would be the case for any politician.

We therefore call on all MEPs to vote for an independent and impartial Ombudsman during the July plenary session.

Filippo Addarii
Executive Director
EUCLID Civil Society Network

Olivier Hoedeman
Research and Campaign Coordinator
Corporate Europe Observatory

David Hammerstein
Former MEP, consumer advocate

Peter C. Gøtzsche
Nordic Cochrane Centre

Helen Darbishire
Executive Director
Access Info Europe

Anthony Murchison
Retired civil servant