The European Ombudsman criticises the Commission of maladministration as to handling of an infringement complaint by an EU citizen. Politically sensitive or not, complaints need to be dealt in due time, he says.
The European Ombusdman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, published, on 30 May 2006, a special report on Commission’s administrative handling of a complaint about sports betting services. A special report is the strongest possible action the Ombudsman can take. Since the establishment of the European Ombusdman in 1995, the institution has issued only 13 special reports.
The report indicates that “the Ombudsman considers that the present case raises an important issue of principle, namely the question as to whether the Commission is entitled indefinitely to delay its handling of complaints alleging an infringement of Community law by a member state on the grounds that it is unable to reach a political consensus on how to proceed”.
The Ombusdman report states that the Commission has a duty to deal properly with all infringement complaints, even if they are ‘highly politically sensitive or controversial’. He thus recommends the Commission to “deal with the complainant’s infringement complaint diligently and without undue delay”.
However, the Ombudsman’s special report is, at this point, out-dated, as the Commission has reached a decision in the meantime. A decision of formal notice was adopted by the College of Commissioners on 4 April 2006, when several similar complaints concerning gambling services were handled together (see EURACTIV 5 April 2006).