Limited push for Europe in Danish ombudsman practice – 40 Years after

Michael Gøtze |


As part of the Evolving Europe project, UACES asked participants at the 40 Years since the First Enlargement conference to respond to the question ‘What have been the most significant changes in the 1973 accession states as a result of EU membership?’

Here Michael Gøtze (University of Copenhagen) shares his view…

The most important development as to the European Union law impact on Danish Ombudsman practice is the predominant non-impact. So far, a European influx is difficult to detect in the subareas of the broad ambit of Danish ombudsman control. The tendency to non-Europeanization after 40 years membership of the European Union is even more significant due to the fact that the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman occupies a pivotal position as a watchdog over public authorities within the national context. The statutory and functional powers of the Danish institution are wide and the ombudsman enjoys a priori sympathy as a protector of citizen’s rights. In addition, there are no specialised administrative courts in Denmark and the ombudsman is thus to some extent unrivalled on the legal scene as the primary promoter of good administration. Nevertheless, the Danish ombudsman subscribes to a narrow scope of focus in the protection of citizens’ European rights. In practice, the ombudsman often limits his review to the authorities’ compliance with national law and in particular with national procedural requirements. The citizen’s European rights are typically written out of the legal equation unless the citizen involved in the case by his/her own means opens up the ombudsman’s eyes to European Union law aspects. The limited horizon in the control and thinking of the Danish ombudsman leaves the European Union rights of citizens largely unidentified and unprotected. The Danish ombudsman is a watchdog with teeth but with discerning taste buds. As to EU Law – 40 years after – the ombudsman is a watchdog with limited appetite.



This blog has been published as part of the Evolving Europe project which is funded with support from the European Commission. The views expressed are those of the author, and the Commission and UACES cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.