At the start of each new parliamentary term, MEPs elect an Ombudsman for a five-year term.

Parliament will hold a first round of elections for the EU Ombudsman on Tuesday. The Ombudsman will be elected by secret ballot for a five-year term. The five candidates running for the post presented their priorities in a public hearing of Parliament’s petitions committee in early December.

The five candidates in the running were announced during the October plenary session. They are in alphabetical order: Giuseppe Fortunato, current ombudsman of Italy’s Campania region, Julia Laffranque, an Estonian judge at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, Latvia’s Nils Muižnieks, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, current EU Ombudsman and former Irish journalist Emily O’Reilly and former Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström.

To qualify for nomination, each candidate had to show they had the experience needed and required the backing of at least 40 MEPs from a minimum of two EU countries.

The European Ombudsman investigates complaints from citizens, EU residents and EU-based organisations about poor administration by EU institutions or other EU bodies, such as unfair conduct, discrimination, unnecessary delays or incorrect procedures.

The ombudsman’s office can also launch investigations on its own initiative. It reports back to the European Parliament each year.