The Danish Ombudsman – A National Watchdog with European Reservations

Michael GØTZE


The Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman occupies a central position as a watchdog over public authorities within the national context. The statutory and functional powers of the institution are wide and the ombudsman enjoys an a priori sympathy from e.g. Parliament and the media. In addition, there are no specialised administrative courts in Denmark and the ombudsman is thus unrivalled on the legal scene as the primary specialist protector of good administration. Nevertheless, the ombudsman subscribes to a narrow scope of focus in the protection of citizens’ rights. In practice the ombudsman often limits his review to the compliance by authorities of national law and in particular of general procedural requirements. The rights of citizens are only actively protected by the ombudsman as far as certain parts of general administrative law in concerned. The current strategy of selected preferences of the Danish ombudsman leaves 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, the ombudsman is reserved and has no appetite at all.

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