05/03/2013 | Writer: Kaos GL

Kaos GL’s Murat Köylü visited EU Ombudsman Principal Legal Adviser Olivier Verheecke at his office in Brussels on February 15th.

Kaos GL’s Murat Köylü visited EU Ombudsman Principal Legal Adviser Olivier Verheecke at his office in Brussels on February 15th. Verheecke stated that to fulfil the ombudspersons’ mission, there must be an atmosphere of trust, accessibility and dialogue. Turkey has established its national ombudsperson office last month.
 
The EU Ombudsman is a constitutional component of the Maastricht Convention. The institution is the main complaints mechanism for EU institutions and bodies, thus determining the standards of “good administration.” EU citizens, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and foreigners can apply to the institution, as well as corporate bodies.   
 
EU Acquis stipulates that member states can constitute the national ombudsman (public inspector) institutions. The EU Ombudsman office and Olivier Verheecke himself have contributed to the forming of Turkey’s National Public Inspector Institution, which has was established last year with former Supreme Court judge Mehmet Nihat Ömeroğlu elected as the Principal Public Inspector by the Turkish Parliament. With the accession, the national institution’s regulations, mechanism and implementations must be compatible with the EU.     
Since its establishment, most of the complaints by EU citizens to EU Ombudsman were related to their national public organisations, but not to EU institutions. As a result, the European Network of Ombudspersons was created to transmit the complaints to the correct institution. The EU Ombudsman is also responsible for complaints about the EU’s local administrations and municipalities.
 
Complaints to the EU Ombudsman from private or corporate persons are evaluated within four of the main categories below:
 
Transparent administration and access to official documents
Contracts, tenders and grants
Non-discrimination
Implementation of EU laws and policies
 
Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation takes place in the constitutional EU convention known as Copenhagen Criteria. “Gender identity” has started to appear in the EU law after many years of related jurisprudence. Olivier Verheecke states that, in the aforementioned context, it is rare to encounter maladministration towards LGBTs inside of the official EU bodies; however, he emphasised that violations related to age (by elder people) become more prevalent daily.
 
Most of the complaints are in relation to the European Commission, which may be seen as the executive body of the EU. Employees of the EU institutions may also direct any kind of violations such as harassment and bullying to the EU Ombudsman. On top of this, complaints to EPSO, which is liable due to its recruitments to EU institutions, may be made to the EU Ombudsman.          
 
After 18 years in existence, the EU Ombudsman office has formed a specific “jurisprudence”, which they call “ombudsprudence”. Unlike the courts that refer to law and jurisprudence, the Ombudsman focuses on “maladministration” and works for EU institutions to deliver better and more ethical devices for individuals.
In this sense, “being illegal or unlawful” is not sufficient for the Ombudsman to form negative opinions to protect complaining persons’ rights. Lack of a human-centric approach and reluctance in public institution to serve in better ways, not to enlarge its work boundaries, not to improve its facilities is enough to declare negative opinion. In this regard, it may be said that the framework is determined by the seeking of progressive ethical notions. Furthermore, human rights norms are of the main categories which are evaluated by the Ombudsman’s reports and practice. 
 
EU Ombudsman has set forth and published in The European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour. Within the scope of this document, it is stated that public organisations are not solely liable to serve in the limits of law and jurisprudence, but they are obliged to enlarge these limits with an ethical attitude that protects human rights and  individuals. It is understood that, one of the objectives of the EU Ombudsman is to succeed “horizontalisation” of the relations between EU institutions, private and corporate entities.
 
Olivier Verheecke states that unification of different human rights, equality, public inspector institutions/bodies might be more efficient.  The United Nations is carrying out some studies in line with this intention. In the near future, Turkey may come across a similar agenda.
 
Mr. Verheecke declares that the most important principals for the EU Ombudsman to fulfil its function are credibility, accessibility and dialogue.
 

Tags: human rights
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