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P. NIKIFOROS DIAMANDOUROS ELECTED NEW EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN

On 15 January 2003, the European Parliament elected Professor Nikiforos Diamandouros to be the new European Ombudsman with 294 out of 509 valid votes cast. P. Nikiforos Diamandouros will take up the post of European Ombudsman on 1 April of this year when Mr. Söderman retires. By then, Mr. Söderman will have been European Ombudsman for over seven and a half years, having been elected the Union's first Ombudsman in 1995. 

Professor Diamandouros is currently the National Ombudsman of Greece, having been appointed Greece's first National Ombudsman in 1998. He is also professor of comparative politics at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the University of Athens. Professor Diamandouros received his B.A. degree from Indiana University (1963) and his M.A. (1965), M.Phil. (1969), and Ph.D. (1972) degrees from Columbia University.   

DRAFT CONSTITUTIONAL TREATY INCLUDES EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN

On 6 February 2003, the Praesidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe published a draft of Articles 1 to 16 of the Constitutional Treaty. The right to complain to the European Ombudsman is mentioned in Title II on fundamental rights and citizenship of the Union. 

Specifically, Article 7, paragraph 2, on citizenship states that "Citizens of the Union... shall have... the right to petition the European Parliament, to apply to the Ombudsman, and to write to the institutions and advisory bodies of the Union in any of the Union's languages and to obtain a reply in the same language." 

The explanatory note on Article 7 explains that:

"The citizens' rights listed in paragraph 2 include all those currently appearing in the "citizenship" part of the EC Treaty. The right of access to documents of the institutions, at present established in Article 255 of the TEC, would be placed in the Titles on "the democratic life of the Union" or "Union institutions" of the Constitutional Treaty. This could also be the case for the right to good administration established by the Charter (Article 41), since the Charter grants that right to "every person".

More detailed provisions and the legal bases relating to the definition of the conditions for and limits on the exercise of those rights (see Article 18(2); the second sentences of Article 19(1) and (2); the second sentence of Article 20; Article 194 and Article 195 TEC) would appear in Part Two of the Treaty. The same would apply to the provision of the current Article 22 TEC concerning the possible subsequent development of citizens' rights."

The European Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman is an Observer to the Convention. He has worked hard to ensure that the right to complain to the Ombudsman is included in the Constitutional Treaty. On 12 December 2002, Mr. Söderman submitted a proposal to the Convention entitled "The place of the European Ombudsman in the future Constitution of the European Union". This paper outlined why and where the Ombudsman should be included in the Constitutional Treaty. On 23 January 2003, the Ombudsman made a further proposal to the Convention on “The Functioning of the Institutions”. This contribution dealt with openness, good administration and the rule of law. 

The Ombudsman's contributions to the Convention, as well as the draft of Articles 1 to 16 of the Constitutional Treaty, are available in 11 languages on the website of the European Convention at the following address: european-convention.eu.int

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