Just days before T&E and three other NGOs launched a legal action over information on biofuels, the ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, accused the Commission of a ‘breach of duty’ under EU law and ‘maladministration’ in the Porsche case.
Perhaps of greater signifcance, he is so frustrated with the lack of cooperation from the Commission that, for the first time, he has called on the European Parliament to intervene on his behalf. Diamandouros says the Commission’s attitude has ‘risked eroding citizens’ trust in the Commission and undermining the capacity of the European ombudsman’, and he wants MEPs to act to restore confidence in the ombudsman’s role.
The Brussels-based NGO Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) submitted an ofcial ‘access to documents’ request in March 2007 about letters and meetings that car makers had had with the enterprise commissioner Günter Verheugen, himself from Germany, in the run-up to legislation on reducing CO2 emissions from new cars. The Commission released some information, but withheld three letters from Porsche to Verheugen.
FoEE took the case to the ombudsman in late 2007. Ombudsman staff inspected the documents and said in October 2007 that the Commission had ‘wrongly refused access’ and ordered them to be released in full. Yet the Commission has consistently failed to do so.