Ombudsman finds European Commission guilty of maladministration

9 July 2010

Brussels, July 9 – The European Ombudsman has this week (July 7) found the Commission guilty of maladministration for failing to disclose correspondence with carmaker Porsche about CO2 emissions cars following a complaint filed by Friends of the Earth Europe. [1]

Commenting on the ombudsman's ruling, Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Despite being reprimanded in an unprecedented way by the ombudsman, the European Commission has stubbornly refused to fully disclose the requested documents. It is still unclear why the Commission will not come clean about its correspondence with Porsche given that reducing CO2 emissions from transport is an issue of public interest. The European Commission's attitude breaches the principle of sincere cooperation and raises serious questions about whether it is working in the interests of European citizens."

The case began when Commission officials refused to grant Friends of the Earth Europe access to three letters relating to car CO2 emissions which the German car company, Porsche AG, had sent to former Commission Vice-President, Günter Verheugen in 2006 and 2007.

In March this year the Ombudsman took the unprecedented step of involving the European Parliament in the case. This prompted the Commission to finally release the letters but only partial information was disclosed.

The ombudsman has now closed the case stating that the Commission's failure to disclose the entirety of the letters is a clear instance of maladministration.

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[1] Decision of the European Ombudsman in his enquiry into complaint 676/2008/RT against the European Commission. A copy of the decision is available for download above