So far, 2021 has not been the year of great relief that everyone was hoping for. The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging and political leaders around the world are still struggling to alleviate its devastating effects.
Governments have been under increased scrutiny, and it’s fair to say that many have not lived up to the expectations. In urgency and panic, we have seen them bypass basic transparency and accountability rules in the procurement of medical equipment. A “global scramble” has continued after COVID-19 vaccines became available.
The pandemic has laid bare major flaws even in countries with advanced procurement systems.
Not only does it not have to be this way, but civil society should not be watching from the sidelines.
Currently piloted across the EU by Transparency International and the European Commission, Integrity Pacts have shown that collaboration with civil society improves transparency, accountability and, ultimately, trust in public contracting.
Our new hands-on brief aims to help EU authorities get started with embedding Integrity Pacts in the investments undertaken as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and COVID-19 recovery funds.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, many of the Integrity Pacts partners have stepped up in response to the surfaced risks.
For example, Transparency International Portugal has been running an open data dashboard to increase transparency in COVID-19 spending.
Our colleagues in Lithuania have contributed their expertise towards an in-depth analysis of public procurement in healthcare.
We are convinced that there is no better time than now to complement existing controls with open, data-driven and participatory oversight measures.
The EU is getting serious in its fight against climate change. The green funds – approximately €1 trillion over the next ten years – will be spent on measures to foster clean energy and protect the continent’s biodiversity, but also on a major ‘renovation wave’ envisaged for the next decade. Integrity Pacts can protect these green investments; successful projects in Greece, Hungary and Slovenia show how.
In the next few months, public agencies across the EU will be drawing up their strategic investment plans to be funded under the EU’s new budget. This means they have a perfect opportunity to embed Integrity Pacts in their programming.
Public agencies that sign up for an Integrity Pact will help make clean contracting become the norm, rather than the exception. They will also help ensure that the unprecedented amount of money – unlocked for COVID-19 recovery – funds the common good, not private pockets.
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