The European Ombudsman is an EU institution set up to investigate complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. It is entitled to receive and investigate complaints from EU citizens, businesses and organisations, and from anyone residing or having their registered office in an EU country.
Emily O’Reilly, was elected by the European Parliament to lead the institution in July 2013 and officially started on October 2013.
The Ombudsman may find maladministration if an institution fails to respect fundamental rights, legal rules or principles, or the principles of good administration. This covers administrative irregularities, unfairness, discrimination, abuse of power, failure to reply, refusal of information, and unnecessary delay, for example. Any citizen or resident of the EU, or business, association, or other body with a registered office in the EU, can lodge a complaint. You need not be individually affected by the maladministration to complain. Please note that the European Ombudsman can only deal with complaints concerning the EU administration and not with complaints about national, regional, or local administrations, even when the complaints concern EU matters.
The Ombudsman carries out investigations following a complaint or on their own initiative. S/he operates completely independently and impartially and does not request or accept instructions from any government or organisation.
If you wish to complain about maladministration by an EU institution or body, you need to first contact that institution through the usual administrative channels and try to get them to put the situation right. If that approach fails, you can complain to the European Ombudsman within two years of the date on which you became aware of the act of maladministration.
For practical guidance on making your complaint, go to the Ombudsman’s website: www.ombudsman.europa.eu/start.faces