Press review, Thursday 16 March 2000

Turun Sanomat (Turku, 114 700) tells that the dispute about openness between the President of the Commission, Mr Romano Prodi and the European Ombudsman, Mr Jacob Soderman does not calm down. The Dutch MEPs of the ELDR-group blame Mr Prodi for exceeding his authority. The Dutch MEPs are going to complain about Mr Prodi s actions to the plenary session of the European Parliament and to the Council.

"Mr Prodi s reaction is totally inappropriate. Mr Soderman s criticism against the proposal for regulation on public access to documents is fully justified. The Commission should rather handle the content of the proposal instead of blaming the one who criticizes it. Secondly, indepence of the European Ombudsman is guaranteed in the basic agreement. It is not a duty of Mr Prodi or someone else to give orders to the Ombudsman", Dutch MEP Lousewies van der Laan (ELDR) emphasizes.

MEP Heidi Hautala (VERTS/ALE), who is one of the Group Chairmen of the European Parliament says that Mr Prodi s actions are impudent. "Mr Prodi's actions show lack of judgement. It is impudent that Mr Prodi starts to give instructions to the independent Ombudsman", Ms Hautala says. She describes the situation as "inflammable". The European Ombudsman is independent of the Commission, the Parliament and the Council and his duty is to supervise interests of the citizens concerning these institutions. Question of openness is a real central area in work of the Ombudsman.