The EU is in an economic, social and political crisis, and there are vital expectations to enhance and restore trust, openness and transparency. The EU bodies which bring the EU and its citizens closer to each other gain even more importance. This paper will demonstrate that alternative dispute-resolution forums, like the office of the EU Ombudsman, have a multidirectional function. It was established to strengthen the fundamental rights of citizens and to enhance a more citizen--friendly EU administration. The analysis highlights the forum’s importance in changing horizontal relations between different stakeholders into vertical during its procedure, for instance between EU institutions and EU citizens. The presentation of research explores these relations by analysing complaint cases and the EU Ombudsman-related cases of the CJEU. The paper argues that the right to complain to the EU Ombudsman, who is a direct link between EU institutions and EU citizens, and the potential of changing the above-mentioned functions, can strengthen the trust of Member States’ citizens and help them identify as European citizens. The cornerstone of this argument are the relations between the EU citizens, institutions and the Ombudsman.