A framework for the verification of ensemble forecasts of near-surface wind speed is described. It is based on existing scores and diagnostic tools, though considering observations from synoptic stations as reference instead of the analysis. This approach is motivated by the idea of having a user-oriented view of verification, for instance with the wind power applications in mind. The verification framework is specifically applied to the case of ECMWF ensemble forecasts and over Europe. Dynamic climatologies are derived at the various stations, serving as a benchmark. The impact of observational uncertainty on scores and diagnostic tools is also considered. The interest of this framework is demonstrated from its application to the routine evaluation of ensemble forecasts and to the assessment of the quality improvements brought in by the recent change in horizontal resolution of the ECMWF ensemble prediction system. The most important conclusions cover (1) the generally high skill of these ensemble forecasts of near-surface wind speed when evaluated at synoptic stations, (2) the noteworthy improvement of scores brought by the change of horizontal resolution, and, (3) the scope for further improvements of reliability and skill of wind speed ensemble forecasts by appropriate post-processing.