EU-Commission Appoints Trade Hearing Officer
BRUSSELS, Belgium – In an attempt to improve transparency and to guarantee impartiality in trade defence proceedings, the Commission has created some time ago the position of Hearing Officer. The post was assigned to Dominique Avot, who previously held several positions in DG External Trade.
Mr Avot has two major tasks. Firstly, he needs to ensure the respect of the right of all interested parties to be heard. He must make sure that all the arguments and facts they present are duly considered. Furthermore he has to make sure that interested parties get access to the files to which they are entitled and he must ensure respect of the rules concerning treatment of confidential information and of business secrets. Secondly, he has to advise the Director General of External Trade on any procedural issue.
Independent from the Commission
The Hearing Officer has been appointed to optimise the right of defence, of which the right to be heard is a cornerstone. He acts upon the explicit request of any interested party, including third countries concerned, the Commission or a member state. He works independently from the Commission investigation services and he reports to the Director General. A request for his intervention can be submitted as soon as the investigation is initiated or at any stage of the proceedings up to the adoption of the final decision. However, he will only intervene if the request is well substantiated, explaining why his intervention is needed to ensure the party’s right of defence.
The request must be submitted in writing and provide the Hearing Officer with sufficient time to take the necessary actions. He should respond within 3 working days of receipt of the request. His decisions are not binding. If after his intervention, a disagreement remains, he has to report to the Director General. His interventions are not made public.
His contact details are:
Trade Hearing Officer
Rue de la Loi 200
B – 1049 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 299 5102