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Mary Lou McDonald welcomes EU Ombudsman's report

18 November, 2004


Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today welcomed a report outlining the work of the European Ombudsman for 2003. The EU Ombudsman is tasked with investigating cases of maladministration in EU institutions and bodies.

Ms McDonald was speaking in a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg where she acknowledged the work of the EU Ombudsman, but cautioned that 'the work of the EU Ombudsman brings into sharp focus the wider debate on accountability, or more accurately the lack of accountability within the EU'.

Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin is committed to an EU that is accessible to the people. We support measures which make the work of the EU more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective. The citizens of the European Union demand and deserve institutions, which deal with their concerns, and complaints in a professional and open manner, and which are prepared to adequately admit their failures and bring about adequate redress.

"The work of the EU Ombudsman brings into sharp focus the wider debate on accountability, or more accurately the lack of accountability within the EU. As welcome and necessary as the work of the EU Ombudsman is, that office is not a panacea for the EU's democratic deficit." ENDS

Full text of Ms McDonald's speech:

May I begin by welcoming both the European Ombudsman's report and the Rapporteur, Mr Proinsias de Rossa's report, on the activities of the European Ombudsman for the year 2003. I would like to acknowledge their work.

Sinn Féin is committed to an EU that is accessible to the people. We support measures which make the work of the EU more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective. The citizens of the European Union demand and deserve institutions, which deal with their concerns, and complaints in a professional and open manner, and which are prepared to adequately admit their failures and bring about adequate redress.

However, as the Rapporteur makes clear in his report, a number of bodies (including the European Commission) had not adhered to recommendations and regulations on access to public documents. It is both regrettable and unacceptable that a number of the institutions did not give full disclosure of documents to the Ombudsman's office. I want to reinforce the recommendation in the Rapporteur's report that 'the Ombudsman should have unlimited access to the documents in connection with his enquiries'.

The work of the EU Ombudsman brings into sharp focus the wider debate on accountability, or more accurately the lack of accountability within the EU. As welcome and necessary as the work of the EU Ombudsman is, that office is not a panacea for the EU's democratic deficit.

Let me be clear, issues of transparency, accountability and trust will not be secured through the effective operation of the EU Ombudsman's office alone. What is required is significant political change, we must seriously go about the job of democratising the EU. What we must create is an EU which compliments the role of the member state - not one which undermines it. We need an EU which allows local and regional democracy to flourish. An EU that respects the sovereignty of member states.

It will take more resources to empower all sections of society to fully engage with the EU.

Sinn Féin will accept nothing less for Irish citizens, they deserve no less. ENDS

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