Emily O’Reilly sworn in as European Ombudsman
Pledges to bridge gap between Europe’s citizens and EU institutions
Emily O’Reilly: “The trust of citizens in European institutions is declining, and many feel their voice simply does not count. ”Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Emily O’Reilly pledged to bridge the gap between Europe’s citizens and the European Union’s institutions when she was officially sworn in as the new European Ombudsman in Luxembourg today.
Ms O’Reilly officially assumes the role today, succeeding P Nikiforos Diamandouros, the former Greek academic who held the position for more than 10 years.
Ms O’Reilly, who took her oath before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, was elected by the European Parliament in July, fending off competition from five other candidates, including the current Dutch ombudsman and three sitting MEPs.
Pledging to bring “renewed energy and effectiveness” to the role, she thanked her predecessor and vowed to enhance the impact and visibility of the role.
Europe faced not only an economic crisis but also a crisis of political legitimacy, she said. “The trust of citizens in European institutions is declining, and many feel their voice simply does not count,”she said, noting that next year was a crucial year for the European Union. European Parliament elections are scheduled for May, with a new European Commission appointed shortly thereafter.
The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about malpractice across the European Union’s various institutions and bodies. It receives about 2,500 complaints a year, about 20 per cent of which are investigated. Any EU citizen, enterprise or association can lodge a complaint with the office.
The ombudsman’s position was established 20 years ago under the Maastricht Treaty. The €248,000 a year post is based in Strasbourg.