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IRIS 2003-1:6/11

European Ombudsman

Suggestions for Draft Constitutional Treaty

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Tarlach McGonagle

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

The European Ombudsman recently proposed that openness and subsidiarity be included among the fundamental principles enumerated in the preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union which was presented to a plenary session of the European Convention on 28 October 2002. He also pleaded for a European administrative law that would constitute a legal basis for securing "an open, accountable and service-minded" administrative regime for the European Union. A third recommendation was that citizens should be informed of the remedies available to them in the event of their fundamental or other rights being breached. Such remedies should be broader than traditional court-based solutions and include recourse to ombudsmen as well as petition-oriented possibilities. Such measures would, he argued, constitute confidence-building measures for citizens vis-à-vis the institutions of the European Union.

Meanwhile, the European Ombudsman has also proposed that Article 5 of the preliminary draft Constitution for the European Union, which deals with citizenship, should stipulate that: "[E]very citizen of the Union has the right to refer to the [European Parliament-appointed] Ombudsman cases of maladministration in the activities of the Union's institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role." Such recognition would categorically copper-fasten at the constitutional level an existing and much-used right.

"European Ombudsman proposes changes to preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty", Press Release of 18 November 2002, EO/02/30 EN
Speech by the European Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman - Round Table on the Future of Europe, 18 November 2002 EN
Speech by the European Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman to the European Convention, 8 November 2002 EN
Preliminary Draft Constitutional Treaty, CONV 369/02, 28 October 2002 EN