Strasbourg, 24 May 2005
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has welcomed the decision by the European Commission to pay compensation of EUR 596 to a complainant whose case was not handled properly and in a timely fashion. Commenting on the outcome of his inquiry, the Ombudsman said: "The Commission's action in this case shows that it is willing to remedy errors that complaints bring to light. By agreeing to pay compensation, it has shown that it respects the citizen's right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time (1)."
The complainant had been awarded a fellowship under the European Community's Fifth Framework Programme. She turned to the Ombudsman alleging that the Commission had failed to handle her final report and her request for final payment properly and in good time. She claimed that the Commission should inform her about the outcome of the assessment of her final report, transfer the final payment immediately and pay the interest accrued between the legal deadline for payment (60 days) and the actual date of payment.
Since it emerged from the Commission's opinion on the complaint that it had in the meantime transferred the final payment, the Ombudsman limited his inquiry to examining (1) the complainant's allegation that the Commission had failed to handle her final report and her request for final payment properly and in good time and (2) the complainant's claim for interest. The inquiry led the Ombudsman to issue a proposal for a friendly solution to the Commission according to which the latter could consider offering the complainant reasonable financial compensation for the negative effects of the errors that it committed in the case.
The Commission acknowledged that due to several misunderstandings and administrative errors, the complainant had not been paid in due time. It added that a number of elements identified by the Ombudsman as well as the exceptional circumstances of the case had led it to propose to the complainant, as a friendly solution, the amount of EUR 596 corresponding to the interest accrued on the outstanding payment.
The complainant thanked the Ombudsman for his swift and professional handling of her case.
For further information, please call Mr Gerhard Grill, Principal Legal Adviser, tel. +33 3 88 17 24 23.
(1) This right is contained in Article 41 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as part of the citizen's right to good administration. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was proclaimed by the Presidents of the Commission, Parliament and Council in December 2000.