The Complaints Mechanism (EIB-CM) is the citizen’s driven accountability tool of the EIB Group. We listen to citizens when they have concerns about an EIB Group project, policy or activity, and enable them to exercise their right to complain. In addition to the core functions, the EIB-CM also coordinates complaints received by the European Ombudsman concerning EIB’s actions. The EIB-CM also engages periodically in Communication and Outreach Activities.
Our role is to investigate complaints to ensure the EIB Group complies with its internal policies and procedures and to propose corrective actions when this does not take place. It also enables alternative and pre-emptive resolution of disputes between complainants and the EIB Group. In addition, the Complaints Mechanism Division assists the EIB Group, for the common purpose of good administration, by advising on possible improvements to the implementation of its activities.
The Complaints Mechanism team receives project complaints including, among others:
threats to community health and safety
We also help complainants affected by other EIB Group activities, such as when they may be wrongfully denied access to information or are inadequately consulted about projects or policies.
We believe that by addressing citizens’ concerns at the earliest possibility, we can ensure that EIB Group policies, projects and activities uphold the highest environmental, social and governance standards and deliver fair and sustainable outcomes for everyone.
1. Compliance review
The Complaints Mechanism investigates complaints and evaluates whether actions or decisions taken by the EIB Group failed to comply with internal policies, standards or procedures or with applicable legislation. Significantly, the compliance review will determine the validity of the allegations and help identify any additional issues raised by the complaint.
The compliance review will entail the review of information provided by the complainant, documentation from EIB Group services and the relevant policies and legal frameworks. We may also conduct meetings with the complainant, EIB Group services and other relevant stakeholders, as well as visit project locations for fact-finding purposes.
The Complaints Mechanism will produce a report on its findings and, if required, propose the appropriate recommendations to resolve the issues presented in the complaint.
The initial assessment is at the core of our work. It helps us to understand the specifics of the complaint and allows us to inform the complainant at the earliest opportunity about how we intend to help them. Valentina Stoeva, Complaints Officer
The Complaints Mechanism can offer complainants participatory ways of addressing issues and resolving conflicts, if the parties are willing to participate in such a collaborative resolution process. The process is designed to build trust and promote dialogue with the purpose of achieving an agreeable solution, which is beneficial to all parties. A Mediation Officer from the Complaints Mechanism, will act as an impartial intermediary and manage the process with reference to the specific issues detailed in the complaint. The Mediation Officer will guide the parties through any of the below mentioned dispute resolution processes available. The decision on the chosen type of dispute resolution process (or a combination thereof) is taken on a case-by-case basis and in agreement with the parties. The process can involve the facilitation of information sharing, a joint fact-finding exercise, dialogue and negotiation between the parties, or a more formal mediation.
It is important to note that a collaborative resolution process is forward looking, aiming to reach a practical solution for the future.
Improving the level of information available to the stakeholders by:
The Mediation Officer works with the parties to identify relevant documents, reports or other information and facilitates the sharing of such information.
The Mediation Officer proposes a joint fact-finding mission with the parties, when there is a need for verified information about a project’s impacts on the ground, to enable dialogue and negotiation.
Establishing or enhancing communication and providing guidance in the process of finding an acceptable solution
The Mediation Officer facilitates dialogue to gradually build trust and restore a good working relationship between the parties. The objective is to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.
The Mediation Officer supports participants to express their concerns, define their interests and consider what they hope to achieve through the mediation process. This is usually done with the support from local mediators. Mediation is based on the idea that the parties are the “owner” of the dispute and are therefore also the ones who can best solve it with lasting effect. The role of the mediators is to guide the parties through the process and foster communication. Moreover, they support the parties to generate and assess options in order to find realistic outcomes, which are acceptable to all parties involved.
The mediation process is confidential in order to allow all participants to provide their views in a free manner.
When the mediation process has been closed with a formal settlement agreement, the Complaint Mechanism can further contribute by monitoring the implementation of the agreed solution(s).
We can bring together communities and project promoters who have been previously unwilling to speak to one another. In many of our cases the complainant is able to reach a solution that works for them, and to build the trust necessary to see it implemented. Lurdes Grou Serra, Mediation Officer
Based on its findings during the complaints process, the Complaints Mechanism is able to identify improvements to the EIB policy framework. Our advice is given to senior management regarding issues of a systemic nature, together with the complaint-specific recommendations proposed to resolve a case. The advice may also encompass other issues that were uncovered during the course of its investigation.
For example, the Complaints Mechanism may advice senior management on potential improvements to its environmental or social policiesand/or procedures, which following an investigation were found to have failed to provide an adequate level of protection to people and the environment during the implementation of a specific project.
The advice we give ensures that the Bank learns lessons from past experiences in order to improve its current and future operations. Alfredo Abad, Deputy Head of Division
The Complaints Mechanism monitors closed complaints to ensure the follow-up measures agreed to by the EIB Group and/or project promoter are implemented. This process ensures that complaints are resolved satisfactorily and in the designated time period.
Monitoring takes places after a reasonable period of time has elapsed following the closure of a case, to allow the necessary improvements and changes to be implemented. It is important to note that only the most high-risk and sensitive complaints are monitored; however, all complainants are advised to contact the Complaints Mechanism if any issues arise following a case’s closure.