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Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU Charter) codifies the right to good administration.[1]  It encompasses, inter alia, the right of every person to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly, and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies of the Union.  In cases of maladministration, citizens of the EU may file a complaint with the European Ombudsman.[2]  The Ombudsman may also initiate inquiries on his or her own.

To implement the right to good administration guaranteed by article 41 of the EU Charter, the Ombudsman has published the European Code of Good Administrative Behavior.[3]  The Code is not a legally binding document, but it has been approved in a resolution by the European Parliament.[4]  In the resolution, the EU Parliament also called on the European Commission to submit a proposal for a binding regulation, but nothing has been proposed as of yet.  The Code guides the behavior of EU institutions when they deal with the public and informs EU citizens of their rights.  Among other things, it sets out five public-service principles, namely commitment to the EU and its citizens, integrity, objectivity, respect for others, and transparency.[5]  The Ombudsman refers to these principles when he or she investigates cases of possible maladministration.[6]

Beyond that, EU institutions are not required to systematically and actively measure customer satisfaction with their services.  Most of the agencies that actively measure it have the business community as their main client.[7]  An example is the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which has been measuring levels of satisfaction with its services since 2005.  The surveys are conducted yearly by independent firms and the results are published on the EUIPO website.[8]  The surveys ask customers about their overall satisfaction, image perception, whether users would recommend the services, whether they have noticed a change in EUIPO’s services, how EUIPO communicates with users, user awareness and consultation of EUIPO’s guidelines and decisions, user satisfaction with each of the procedures and related aspects, interaction with users, satisfaction with staff, user services, the Key User Management Programme and complaints, satisfaction with website tools and different aspects of the website, reasons why users use electronic filing instead of traditional paper-based filing, and their awareness and perception of various tools provided by EUIPO.[9]

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Prepared by Jenny Gesley
Foreign Law Specialist
October 2017


[1] Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU Charter), art. 41, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 391, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012P/TXT&from=EN, archived at http://perma.cc/LGF6-QDQF.

[2] EU Charter art. 43; Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), art. 228, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 47, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/ TXT&from=EN, archived at http://perma.cc/QL7H-RHS5.

[4] European Parliament Resolution on the European Ombudsman’s Special Report to the European Parliament Following the Own-Initiative Inquiry into the Existence and the Public Accessibility, in the Different Community Institutions and Bodies, of a Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, 2002 O.J. (C 72E) 331, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52001IP0245&qid=1507217723648&from=EN, archived at http://perma.cc/QL8D-DRWZ.

[5] European Ombudsman, supra note 3, at 8–10.

[6] Id. at 11.

[7] European Commission, Evaluation of the EU Decentralised Agencies in 2009. Final Report Volume II: Conclusions at System Level 84 (Dec. 2009), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/ libe/dv/evaluation_eu_agencies_vol_ii_/evaluation_eu_agencies_vol_ii_en.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/5SQN-B6JM.

[8] Quality: Listening to Our Users, EUIPO, https://euipo.europa.eu/ohimportal/en/quality (last updated June 27, 2016), archived at http://perma.cc/V4B7-YNMV.

[9] EUIPO/Deloitte, 2015 User Satisfaction Survey: Final Report on OHIM’s User Satisfaction Survey (USS) Conducted in Autumn 2015, at 6 (Dec. 2015), https://euipo.europa.eu/tunnel-web/secure/webdav/ guest/document_library/contentPdfs/about_euipo/quality/2015_uss_report_en.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/VBM4-E476.