The wind is in the north: the first European Ombudsman (1995-2003)

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Series Details Vol.10, No.2, June 2004, p333-368
Publication Date June 2004
ISSN 1354-3725
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Jacob Söderman was elected to the post of the European Ombudsman (EO) shortly after the establishment of the office by the Treaty of Maastricht. When Söderman took up his functions in 1995, he stepped into a largely undefined role. As the first European Ombudsman, he has enjoyed much discretion and had a unique opportunity to characterise the nature and functions of the office. According to the EC Treaty, the main task of the European Ombudsman is to consider complaints concerning 'instances of maladministration' in Community administration. But as the Treaty leaves 'maladministration' undefined, Söderman had relatively free hands in both defining and interpreting the concept. As a consequence, the undefined notion turned into a source of controversy concerning the correct functions of the EO. Söderman's approach met with mixed reactions: while he received several prizes for his achievements as the European Ombudsman, he almost failed to get re-elected for a second term in office in 1999.

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