European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman And The European Network Of Ombudsmen


The European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht Treaty (1992). The first Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman, was elected by Parliament in 1995. He was succeeded in 2003 by Professor P. Nikiforos Diamandouros. The current Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, took office on 1 October 2013.

The role of the European Ombudsman

The European Ombudsman is an independent and impartial body that holds the EU’s institutions and agencies to account, and promotes good administration. The Ombudsman helps people, businesses and organisations facing problems with the EU’s administration by investigating complaints about maladministration by EU institutions and bodies, but also by proactively looking into broader systemic issues.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration and looks into broader systemic issues with the EU institutions. People or organisations who have encountered problems with the EU administration, and have unsuccessfully tried to resolve the problem with the institution or body in question, can submit a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Beyond inquiries into specific complaints about maladministration in the EU institutions, the European Ombudsman also has the power to proactively work on broader strategic issues. The Ombudsman carries out strategic investigations on her own initiative, which aim to draw attention to matters of public interest and look into wider systemic issues affecting the EU institutions and the democratic decision-making process.

Areas of work

The European Ombudsman’s work covers a broad spectrum of issues. Her work is organised under the following general categories:

  • Transparency
  • Accountability and inclusive decision-making
  • Ethics
  • Management of EU public money
  • Fundamental rights
  • Administrative procedures and practices
  • EU personnel issues