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Danish MEPs fight for non-MEP Ombudsman

EU Ombudsman 2003-2013 Nikiforos Diamandouros is an emeritus professor and was the first Greek national ombudsman.

Danish journalists’ magazine Journalisten.dk has an interesting take on the debate about a new EU Ombudsman. Written by journalist Andreas Marckmann. Read the English language summary here.


All 13 Danish MEPs will vote to prevent an MEP candidate from becoming new EU Ombudsman in two weeks. Former Danish Ombudsman Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen joins choir of critics.


Each of the 13 Danish MEPs will vote to prevent an MEP from winning the election for new EU Ombudsman next plenary.


The Danish MEPs fear that the institution will lose trust among citizens as well as journalists, if a candidate goes directly from being an MEP to taking office as EU Ombudsman, writes Danish magazine Journalisten.


There are six candidates for the post. Three are MEPs. They are running against e.g. the Irish and the Dutch national Ombudsmen.


“It is a scandal,” says Danish Green MEP Margrete Auken.


“This is the same as if a long-serving member of the Danish Folketing was elected Ombudsman in Denmark. This would never ever happen,” she says to Journalisten.


Some of the Danish MEPs who are voting for independent candidates do have candidates from within their own political groups. This goes for the five Danish Social Democrats, the one Danish conservative, and the right-wing Morten Messerschmidt.


But neither will vote for their own group candidates.


“We think it is a good tradition that the Ombudsman is 100 percent independent,” says MEP Dan Jørgensen (S&D).


“It has to be a non-political institution. I do not really think you can accuse the political candidates of anything, but it is the wrong signal to send,” says MEP Bendt Bendtsen (EPP-ED).


All other Danish MEPs also vote for independent candidates, Journalisten writes.


“This is preposterous, and I cannot even understand how it came to this. To make the Ombudsman part of the political battle of seats is a total misunderstanding,” says MEP Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE).


The former Danish Ombudsman, Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen, has also voiced his concerns. On Danish Broadcasting’s P1, he said: “I really hope that a majority in the European Parliament will choose a person, who appears independent – which is hard, not to say impossible, if you go straight from a long and heavy political career.”


On the other hand, many MEPs also defend the election of an MEP as Ombudsman. In a number of internal e-mails from Parliament, which Journalisten cites, the debate goes both ways.


Who else can be better qualified for this job to understand citizens’ concerns than a former parliamentarian?” writes MEP Doris Pack in one e-mail to colleagues.


“If MEPs cannot be an Ombudsman politicians shouldnt be Commissioners, High Reps or Presidents of the Council as they also deal with governments from different political families as well as issues derived from their sister political parties,” writes MEP Charles Tannock in another.

Brigitte Alfter


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