European Ombudsman concludes the European Commission failed to carry out a human rights impact re ECAs

(European Ombudsman, Brussels, 17 July 2018) Following a complaint launched by ECA Watch members, the European Ombudsman has determined that the European Commission wrongly decided not to carry out a human rights impact assessment before agreeing to the 2015 Sector Understanding on Export Credits for coal-fired electricity generation projects, negotiated in the context of the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits. The Ombudsman found maladministration on the part of the Commission for having taken this decision in the absence of a thorough analysis of whether it was likely there would be any significant economic, social or environmental impacts, including on human rights. The Arrangement and its subsidiary Sector Understandings are a loosely monitored “Gentlemen’s Agreement” among participating OECD members, which provide “a framework for the orderly use of officially supported export credits”. This is a welcome decision and follows the Ombudsman's recent demand for greater transparency on the part of European ECAs.