An Ombudsman is an official who investigates complaints from ordinary citizens amongst the public. The European Ombudsman has an office in the European Parliament building in Strasbourg and consider complaints from all EU citizens. The Ombudsman has done much to ensure transparency in the EU.
The European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, following various Danish proposals.
The first one selected was Jacob Söderman, a former Finnish Ombudsman and Social Democratic Minister of Justice. He was elected by a narrow margin of seven votes in competition with a Greek member of the European Parliament.
Söderman retired in 2003 and was replaced by the Greek Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, who was a member of the Greek socialist party PASOK.
In 2013 the new EU Ombudsman wasthe former Irish Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly. She has a background as a journalist and became the first female Ombudsman in Ireland in 2003.
The first European Ombudsman proposed reforms of the EU institutions and a modern administrative law that would promote openness, transparency and a more modern administration.
The Ombudsman does not have a legal right of access to all Commission documents.