EU Ombudsman rejects EGBA’s complaint of maladministration against EU Commission’s handling of infringement complaints


EU Ombudsman rejects EGBA’s complaint of maladministration against EU Commission’s handling of infringement complaints

The European Ombudsman has published its decision to reject a complaint submitted by the Egba concerning the European Commission’s failure to ensure the regulatory framework for online gambling in certain Member States was in line with EU law.

In previous years the Egba had submitted a number of infringement complaints to the European Commission but the Commission did not follow up on these complaints and did not engage in an open dialogue with stakeholders, leading Egba to call on the Ombudsman to intervene. However, during the course of the Ombudsman inquiry, in December 2017, the Commission decided to close all the open infringement complaints against Member States.

In its decision the Ombudsman concluded that “the Commission has wide discretion on whether and how to pursue infringement cases and that the decision taken fell within the boundaries of that discretion”. The Ombudsman found the Commission’s procedural handling of the infringement complaints had not committed maladministration. The Ombudsman has now closed the case, with no further appeal possible, noting that the underlying legal issues can be address at national level.

The Ombudsman’s decision, however, leaves unresolved how best action can be taken against those Member States who are found to be in breach of EU law. This uncertainty was further compounded on 28 February when the Hungarian Ministry of Justice issued a press release rejecting a European Court of Justice ruling earlier that day which had found Hungary’s gambling laws to be in breach of EU law. The Court ruling found that Hungary’s gambling law is in conflict with EU law and the Hungarian government cannot therefore impose enforcement measures on the basis of a national law which is in breach of EU law. However, the fact that the Hungarian authorities seem content to ignore this ruling brings into question the authority of the Court and the integrity of EU law.

“Infringements proceedings in this sector have become a complete mess since the Commission decided to wash its hands of its responsibility to ensure online gambling regulation in Member States is in line with EU law. While the Ombudsman’s decision is disappointing, it does confirm that the Commission’s decision to close these infringement cases was a political one. If the Commission is not taking seriously its responsibility to uphold EU law and ensure Member States, like Hungary, comply with EU Court of Justice rulings, then who will?”, said Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of Egba.

Non c’è stato nessun caso di cattiva amministrazione della Commissione UE riguardo alle segnalazioni di infrazione degli Stati Membri relative al gioco online. Così, con il parere espresso lo scorso 2 marzo, il Mediatore Europeo – organo indipendente e imparziale che chiede conto all’amministrazione dell’UE e conduce indagini su casi di cattiva amministrazione nell’azione di istituzioni, organi, uffici e agenzie dell’Unione – ha chiuso il caso sollevato dall’European Gaming and Betting Association. L’associazione – che raccoglie alcune delle più importanti sigle del gaming online – aveva segnalato al Mediatore il mancato interesse della Commissione nei confronti di diverse segnalazioni di infrazione. Nello specifico erano stati evidenziati i casi di alcuni Stati Membri che, con le loro regolamentazioni del settore, non rispettavano i principi di libera circolazione di merci e servizi previsti dai trattati. «La Commissione – si legge nel parere – ha un’ampia discrezione nel prendere simili decisioni e in base alle sue competenze ha optato per non ritenere fondate tutte le segnalazioni. Nello specifico, dopo aver esaminato il suo operato, non è stata rilevato alcun sintomo di cattiva amministrazione

The European Ombudsman has today published its decision to reject a complaint submitted by the European Gaming and Betting Association (Egba) concerning the European Commission’s failure to ensure the regulatory framework for online gambling in certain Member States was in line with EU law.

In previous years the Egba had submitted a number of infringement complaints to the European Commission but the Commission did not follow up on these complaints and did not engage in an open dialogue with stakeholders, leading Egba to call on the Ombudsman to intervene. However, during the course of the Ombudsman inquiry, in December 2017, the Commission decided to close all the open infringement complaints against Member States.

In its decision the Ombudsman concluded that “the Commission has wide discretion on whether and how to pursue infringement cases and that the decision taken fell within the boundaries of that discretion”. The Ombudsman found the Commission’s procedural handling of the infringement complaints had not committed maladministration. The Ombudsman has now closed the case, with no further appeal possible, noting that the underlying legal issues can be address at national level.

The Ombudsman’s decision, however, leaves unresolved how best action can be taken against those Member States who are found to be in breach of EU law. This uncertainty was further compounded on 28 February when the Hungarian Ministry of Justice issued a press release rejecting a European Court of Justice ruling earlier that day which had found Hungary’s gambling laws to be in breach of EU law. The Court ruling found that Hungary’s gambling law is in conflict with EU law and the Hungarian government cannot therefore impose enforcement measures on the basis of a national law which is in breach of EU law. However, the fact that the Hungarian authorities seem content to ignore this ruling brings into question the authority of the Court and the integrity of EU law.