EUF Europa-Prize 2021

Courageous Commitment to the Rule of Law and Democracy in the EU

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly receives EUF Europa Prize - Donated by the University Council.

Flensburg, February 24, 2021. Emily O'Reilly, the European Ombudsman, has been awarded the Europe Prize of Europa-Universität Flensburg - Donated by the University Council. The prize honors committed Europeans and will be awarded for the second time in 2020. The 10,000-euro monetary award for the prize was donated by the University Council of Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF), which selected Ms O'Reilly as this year’s recipient.

"The University Council of EUF honors Emily O'Reilly for her energetic and courageous commitment to greater transparency, effectiveness and integrity in EU institutions and bodies. Transparency is an indispensable component of democracy, and institutional supervision a prerequisite for trust and credibility. To achieve transparency, one must sometimes be ready for conflict. O'Reilly has confidently developed her office in this sense, thus contributing to the EU's progress towards its ideal of the rule of law and democratic procedures" stated the council in explaining its decision. The five-member body includes prominent figures from academia, business and society at large.

"I am deeply honored to receive this award. I do so gratefully and in the knowledge that, alongside my office, there are many actors in Brussels, including civil society and journalists, working to ensure that the EU institutions maintain the highest public service standards," said Ms O’Reilly. "As European Ombudsman my task is to ensure that the EU institutions act in a transparent and ethical manner. The pandemic has shown us that this is all the more necessary during crisis times when there is greater public need to know why certain decisions are being taken and what the consequences are"

The decision to honor Ms. O’Reilly was warmly welcomed by the President of Europa-Universität Flensburg, Prof. Dr. Werner Reinhart. "At a time when democratic institutions around the world are being challenged and even damaged by autocratic tendencies, we are delighted that our university council has chosen Emily O'Reilly, a committed and far-sighted campaigner for the resilience of these institutions" he commented. "In the exercise of her office, the European Ombudswoman has shown what it takes to achieve that goal: courage and the determination not to be intimidated by power."

Born in 1957 in Tullamore, Ireland, Emily O'Reilly worked as a journalist, author and political editor before she was first elected as European Ombudsman in July 2013. Following the European Parliament elections, she was re-elected for a five year mandate in December 2014 and again in December 2019. As the European Ombudsman, she investigates maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. She was awarded Schwarzkopf Europe Award in 2017 and the Prague European Summit Vision for Europe Award 2018 in recognition of her work.

From 2003 until 2013, Ms O’Reilly was the first Ombudsman and Information Commissioner in Ireland and was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Law by the National University in Ireland in 2008 for her work in promoting human rights throughout her career. In 2014 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University College Dublin for her decade of service as Irish Ombudsman.

Ms O'Reilly has written three books on Irish politics and media and is a current member of the International Advisory Board of Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism. In the course of her journalistic career, she won two awards: Woman Journalist of the Year in 1986 and Journalist of the Year in 1994. Ms O'Reilly is married and has five children.

Emily O'Reilly will receive the prize in an award ceremony tentatively scheduled to take place Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Ms O’Reilly will donate the prize money to the charity Doctors Without Borders. Author, journalist and lawyer Dr. Heribert Prantl will give the laudation.