Improving the Transparency and Accountability of EU Institutions: The Impact of the Office of the European Ombudsman
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This research focuses on the inquiries into alleged maladministration by EU institutions, completed by the Office of the European Ombudsman (EO) during the period 1996-2012, to highlight the ways in which the Ombudsman advances democracy in the European Union (EU). The article analyses the content of an original dataset consisting of 515 critical remarks and 113 follow up inquiries issued by the EO The study shows that concerns about transparency and accountability dominate citizens’ complaints to the Ombudsman. Further, the analysis concludes that when EU institutions were subjects to critical remarks, in the majority of instances they adopted the EO’s recommendation to increase the transparency and/or the accountability of their practices. The EO’s impact is observable both during the inquiry process and after it issues a critical remark. The article links these conclusions to a broader discussion of the democratic dilemmas in the EU.