Nikiforos Diamandouros, the European ombudsman, has criticised the European Commission for refusing to conduct public consultations in the 23 official languages of the European Union.
In a decision published last week (11 October), Diamandouros found that the Commission's practice of launching public consultations in only a few EU languages constituted maladministration.
The decision said that the Commission “has not shown any real willingness to ensure that all European citizens are able to understand its public consultations, which should, as a matter of principle, be published in all the treaty languages”.
It also noted that the Commission had not provided any “convincing and acceptable justification” for limiting the use of EU languages in public consultations.
Complaint from Spain
The initial complaint was brought in 2010 by a Spanish lawyer, who argued that the Commission's policy was arbitrary and contradicted the principles of openness, good administration and non-discrimination.
The Commission's response to a draft recommendation from Diamandouros in November was that it had to prioritise its translation work in view of a limited budget and the demands of the legislative process. It also said that citizens had the right to submit their responses to public consultation in any of the official languages.