The race is on to find the next European Ombudsman to replace the Greek-born Nikiforos Diamandouros
when he steps down later this year as. Based in Strasbourg, Mr Diamandouros will be retiring on 1 October
, 10 months before the end of his term of office marking 10 years in the role. The news that two MEPs have put themselves forward
has angered South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson
who objects to MEPs being candidates for the post as matter of principle.
Sir Graham, a former Chairman of the Parliament’s Citizens' Rights, Justice and Home Affairs Committee and who was among the MEPs who first campaigned for the establishment of the office of Ombudsman, said: "The European Ombudsman is a position of critical importance.
“It is the Ombudsman who investigates when things go wrong - when there has been abuse of power, discrimination or when information has been refused. It is inevitable that these situations will at times become politically charged with argument between political parties. The Ombudsman must be believed to be above party,
” he said.
"MEPs, as political party animals par excellence, cannot credibly claim to be independent. As a matter of principle, MEPs should not be candidates for the post of Ombudsman."
The European Parliament is responsible for electing the European Ombudsman. At the start of each five-year parliamentary term, the Parliament’s President opens the call for nominations. Each candidate that receives the support of 40 MEPs (from at least two Member States) is then subject to a hearing in Committee. MEPs then conduct a series of secret ballots until a nominated candidate receives majority support. (European Parliament Rules of Procedure: 194
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