The Impact of the European Ombudsman on the European Commission: Improvements in Methods of Operation and Evolving Principles of European Good Governance

25 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2011 Last revised: 17 Nov 2011

See all articles by Elina Lae

Elina Lae

University of Michigan Law School - JD Candidate Author; University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 29, 2011

Abstract

“The way institution reacts to complaints is a key indicator of how citizen-centered it is.” Nikiforos Diamandouros, European Ombudsman. One of the harshest criticisms towards the EU is that it is an undemocratic union. Instead of vesting the power to initiate laws into a democratically elected body, the EU has granted this power to the European Commission, a massive, bureaucratic machine which is non-obvious and inaccessible to individuals. Besides its significant law-making powers, the Commission also has major executive powers. It makes most of the administrative decisions of the Union that directly concern individuals. Finally, the Commission has broad law enforcement powers, prosecuting possible infringements by member states in the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”). This seeming omnipotence of the Commission directly contradicts the separation of powers that is generally viewed as one of the guarantees of democracy. When European integration culminated in the creation of the European Union and EU citizenship in 1993, there was a dire need to address the lack of transparency in the institutional structures. A concrete response to this need was the institution of the European Ombudsman to give the EU “a more human face.”

Keywords: European Ombudsman, European Commission, European Union

Suggested Citation

Lae, Elina, The Impact of the European Ombudsman on the European Commission: Improvements in Methods of Operation and Evolving Principles of European Good Governance (April 29, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1936629 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1936629

Elina Lae (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School - JD Candidate Author ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law ( email )

Porthania 5th Floor
P.O. Box 4
Helsinki, FIN-0001 4
Finland

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