There were six candidates originally but Markus Jäger (Germany) and Alex Brenninkmeijer (The Netherlands) withdrew. In the third ballot, MEPs had to choose between Ria Oomen-Ruijten (The Netherlands) and Emily O’Reilly (Ireland), the two highest-polling candidates of the previous round. The other two candidates were, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (Germany) and Francesco Speroni (Italy).
EU rules establish that the Ombudsman must "offer every guarantee of independence". The Ombudsman is usually elected by Parliament in a secret vote at the start of each parliamentary term. Ms O’Reilly was elected following the retirement of Nikiforos Diamandouros.
The European Ombudsman helped more than 22,000 European citizens, companies, NGOs, and associations in 2011. Seven complaints came from Malta which concluded the year with the fourth highest complaint rate when compared to its population size.
In 2011, Spain had the most complaints with 361, Germany followed with 308 and 223 from Poland. Relative to population, however, the greatest proportion of complaints came from Luxembourg with an 11.6 ratio representing 26 complaints, Malta ratio was 2.8, the fourth largest from the 27 EU member states.