The European Ombudsman
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In 1995, the European Parliament established the post of European Ombudsman by article 195 of the Maastricht Treaty. Its remit was to protect the citizens and any legal entity of the Union from the consequences of maladministration and malfunctioning of the Community institutions or bodies. Any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State can complain to the Ombudsman, who then investigates the case. To be valid, a complaint must be made within two years of the date when the plaintiff took cognizance of the facts on which the complaint is based; it must concern a Community institution or body; and an appropriate administrative procedure against the institution or body concerned must have been initiated prior to the complaint being made. The Ombudsman's experience to date indicates that a vast proportion of complaints referred to him fail to meet the requirements necessary to his intervention. In most cases that are investigated, complainants achieve satisfaction. It is often the case that the Ombudsman's initiative prompts an overhauling of the existing regulations pertaining to Citizens Rights and their upholding by the Community institutions and bodies. It is thus legitimate to consider the European Ombudsman to be an important institutional step towards a further strengthening of Citizens Rights in the policies of the European Union, post-Maastricht Treaty and post-Amsterdam Conference. The Ombudsman would gain additional support were the Charter of Fundamental Rights incorporated into the future European Constitution.
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