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The Ombudswoman finds that the Commission erred by taking unilateral action to recover funds from the European Schools
With regard to the case that Interparents took regarding “Illegal L1”:
"The Commission erred by taking unilateral action to recover funds from the European Schools. This amounted to maladministration. "
In April 2010, the Board of Governors approved the discharge on the implementation of the 2008 budget, with the Commission voting against it on the grounds that the European Schools had been offering L1 courses to category III students without the presence of students from the other two categories. In the Commission's view, this was contrary to the Board of Governors' decision of 1998. Therefore, the Commission issued letters with a view to initiating recovery proceedings against the European Schools. All the schools, except the school in Karlsruhe, adopted corrective measures. The Commission thus started recovery proceedings against the school in Karlsruhe.
The ombudswoman notes the “Commission's interpretation of the Convention to be contrary to its spirit.”
See her final assessment points 12 onwards..
13 - “the Ombudsman found that Article 26 of the Statute of the European Schools required the Commission to first raise the issue with the Board of Governors (as it did in this case) and, if the Board of Governors did not resolve the matter, to either respect their decision or to refer the matter to the Court of Justice.”
15 - The Ombudsman notes that the Commission's strict interpretation of Article 26 would, de facto, render the Commission the ultimate decision-making body in educational and budgetary matters within the framework of the European Schools system. This cannot have been the intention of the Contracting parties.
17 - Therefore, the Ombudsman maintains her view that the Commission's position that it is entitled to take unilateral action to recover funds from the European Schools is contrary to the Statute of the European Schools, which confers on the Board of Governors the competence to take decisions in educational, budgetary and administrative matters.
GUDEE, however, objects to the fact that there are no practical steps possible and so only a critical remark can be made..