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Statute.The problem raised in the report by Teresa Almeida Garrett (EPP, Portugal) concerns the limits the Ombudsman's statutes place on his powers of enquiry in providing that access to a dossier may be refused in the grounds of duly justified secrecy, and that officials and other agents of EU institutions testifying at the request of the Ombudsman should speak in the name and on the instructions of their administration and remain tied by their pledge of professional secrecy. The Ombudsman did not reject the notion of confidentiality but insisted that access should be the rule and secrecy the exception, duly justified in each case. Jacob Soderman himself acknowledges that his own staff remain subject to an obligation not to disclose information or evidence in their possession in the context of their enquiries.Parliament proposes that EU institutions and bodies should be required to provide details requested by the Ombudsman and permit him to inspect and make copies of documents in any form (paper and electronic documents, sound, visual and audiovisual recordings). In the case of "classified documents" emanating from a Member State, the relevant government should be advised in advance that documents are to be submitted to the Ombudsman. In all cases involving documents classified as "secret" or "confidential", the Ombudsman should not disclose their content.White Paper on governance.During the joint debate on the Ombudsman's annual report for 2000, the rapporteur Herbert Bosch (PES, Austria), stressed that the Ombudsman is "an essential part of the institutional furniture". Responding to the debate, Jacob Soderman, echoed the European Parliament (see European Report 2616 for further details) in criticising the White Paper on Governance which he suggested had much talk but few concrete proposals. He was sorry to say that the Commission seemed to have forgotten the concept of European citizenship. There was no mention of the right to complain to Parliament or the Ombudsman. He believed that the Commission should seek to make European citizenship a living reality.Loyola de Palacio, the European Commission Vice-President with responsibility for relations with Parliament, insisted in response that the White Paper on Governance is much more than a blueprint for mere administrative reform, representing on the contrary a clear position on how best to bring Europe close to its citizens.She expressed concern at the conclusions of the report by...

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