Accountability in the EU
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Accountability in the EU

The Role of the European Ombudsman

Edited by Herwig C.H. Hofmann and Jacques Ziller

In the first interdisciplinary work focused on the European Ombudsman, expert observers of EU institutional affairs provide a thorough evaluation of the Ombudsman and its constitutional role, powers, activities and future potential. The book addresses the Ombudsman’s impact on accountability in the EU’s executive branch and offers new suggestions for the further development of the practice of ‘ombuds review’.
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Chapter 5: Advancing transparency in the European Union: the role of the European Ombudsman

Dacian C. Dragos and Bogdana Neamtu


The proliferation of new legal institutions and strategies for solving administrative disputes (operating either complementary or as an alternative to the court system) are currently modifying the relationship between law and administration. These new tools are competing with the traditional models of dispute resolution (mainly courts) by employing different methods. One of these developments can be seen in the rise and success of ombudsmanship. The European Ombudsman (EO) has developed norms of a non-legal character for the assessment of the conduct of the administration, contributing to the growth of a body of ethical norms applied by public administration – ombudsprudence.  The EO has been from the beginning one of the promoters of good administration in the EU. As part of the institution’s endeavours, transparency and participation hold an important place. The chapter tries to assess the ombudsprudence of the office in recent years in regard to the principles of good governance relating to transparency and participation. The empirical research is based on an analysis of a sample of the Ombudsman’s decisions from 2010 to 2015. It analyses the cases relating to access to information investigated by the EO, the good administration norms developed by the institution in the process thereof, and how this jurisprudence relates to the legal framework of the EU in this field, as well as to the jurisprudence of the CJEU. The ultimate aim of the chapter is to determine whether the institution has brought a clear contribution to the development of the transparency principle beyond the existing legal texts.

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