Italian connections

October 27, 2000

I wish to comment on David Petrie's response to coverage of the European ombudsman's decision (Letters, THES , October 13). Mr Petrie is mistaken in claiming that the ombudsman's only means of censure is the critical remark. That is the lightest form of censure.

The ombudsman has progressively stronger powers of censure: draft recommendations and reports to the European Parliament.

Mr Petrie claims that the ombudsman upheld the complaint. A close reading of the decision reveals he issued a critical remark for failure to consult the complainants before altering the infringement proceedings and rejected the complaint on failure to detect allegedly false information. Given the lightness of the censure with which the ombudsman closed the case and his acknowledgement of the commission's discretion to choose its submissions, there are grounds to infer that the failure to consult seems formal rather than substantial.

Henry Rodgers
Lecturer in English
La Sapienza University

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