The position of Ombudsman was established by the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht, 1992) to ensure sound administration and administrative transparency at EU institutional level.
The Ombudsman is elected by the European Parliament after each election for the duration of Parliament's term of office (five years).
He is empowered to receive complaints from any citizen of the Union or any natural or legal person residing in a Member State concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of the Union institutions, bodies or entities (with the exception of the Court of Justice of the European Union). For example, complaints may be based on lack or denial of access to information, on unjustified administrative delay, on unfairness or discrimination, or on lack of transparency.
The Ombudsman can open an investigation on his own initiative or following a complaint. Complaints can be submitted to the Ombudsman directly or through a Member of the European Parliament.
Where the Ombudsman establishes an instance of maladministration he refers the matter to the institution concerned, conducts an investigation, seeks a solution to redress the problem and, if necessary, submits draft recommendations to which the institution is required to reply in the form of a detailed opinion within three months. If the institution concerned does not agree to the proposed recommendations, the Ombudsman may in no case mandate a solution. However, he will be able to submit a special report on the question to the European Parliament so that it can take the appropriate measures.
Every year, the Ombudsman gives the European Parliament a report on all his investigations.