"Keeping the good guys good"
Flensburg, November 9, 2021. The European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has received today (9.11.) in Flensburg the "Europe Prize of the EUF - donated by the University Council" and endowed with 10,000 euros. The Irish-born, O’Reilly was awarded the prize "for her energetic and courageous commitment to more transparency, effectiveness and integrity of the EU bodies and institutions", it said in justification. Emily O'Reilly has confidently developed her office and thus contributed to the fact that the significance of the ombudsman's office has gained in stature and that the EU better lives up to the ideal of the rule of law and democratic procedures, explained Christian Scherf, chairman of the five-member University Council of the European University Flensburg (EUF), which donates the prize.
In his laudation, journalist and author Heribert Prantl called Emily O'Reilly "the fearless" and compared her to the Irish fairy tale hero Lorenz Hulahan: "She drives away ghosts, she tames them, the ghosts today are called bureaucratism, intransparency, cronyism, they are called irresponsibility, and self-service mentality. All of this is a betrayal of European values." Her work, Prantl continued, "is precious and worthy of value: she is a European Ombudsman. As such, without being called that, she is also European Home Guardian and Commissioner for Strengthening Trust in the EU. She teaches that Europe is much more than the sum of its faults. Europe is a miracle. Emily O'Reilly seeks to heal the wounds inflicted on that miracle."
That the miracle of the European Union is vulnerable was also emphasized by Emily O'Reilly in her acceptance speech: "My work is also influenced by my very strong personal belief of the EU being a force for good in the world and therefore If I were to sum up my work using non legal language, I would say that I try to keep the good guys good."
University President Prof. Dr. Werner Reinhart pointed out that this work is not only necessary, but also difficult. "Those who encourage others sometimes need encouragement themselves. I wish that today's award will serve as encouragement to you, Ms. O'Reilly, and your team."
The Irish Ambassador to Germany, Dr. Nicholas O'Brien, recognized Emily O'Reilly as a great leader, saying, "Great leaders are visionary, committed and dedicated to a better future for those on whose behalf they work." Annabell Krämer, deputy president of the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament, also recognized the ombudswoman's commitment: "The 'Europe Award' could not do greater honor to its name than by being awarded today to a committed European with integrity like you."
Emily O’Reilly will donate the prize money to the charity Doctors Without Borders.
Emily O'Reilly, born in Tullamore, Ireland, in 1957, worked as a journalist, author and political editor before first being elected European Ombudsman in July 2013. Following the European Parliament elections, she was elected in December 2014 and again in December 2019 for a five-year term. As European Ombudsman, she investigates maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. For her work, she received the Schwarzkopf Europe Prize in 2017 and the Vision for Europe award from the European Summit in Prague in 2018.
From 2003 to 2013, Emily O'Reilly was the first Ombudsman and Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland. She was honored in 2008 with an honorary doctorate in law from the National University in Ireland for her work in promoting human rights throughout her professional career. In 2014, she received an honorary doctorate in law from University College Dublin for her decades of service as Ireland's Ombudsman.
Emily O'Reilly is the author of three books on Irish politics and media and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. She was named Journalist of the Year in 1986 and 1994. Emily O'Reilly is married and has five children.
The "EUF Europe Prize - endowed by the University Council" was awarded for the first time in 2018. The first prize recipient was the Danish writer Carsten Jensen. The prize honors people who are committed to a strong and democratic Europe. The prize money of 10,000 Euros is donated by the EUF University Council. In return, the members waive the expense allowances to which they are entitled.