The anti-corruption organisation Transparency Germany today released its National Integrity System assessment for Germany. The report examines the current state of anti-corruption reform in the Federal Republic of Germany. It rates 13 institutions, basing its assessments on their financial and personal resources, the anti-corruption measures put in place, and their overall contribution to the fight against corruption in Germany. Germany generally receives good to very good marks for the prevention and punishment of corruption.
The federal structure of Germany provides numerous control mechanisms that can prevent abuses of power. In addition, no state or non-state body is limited in its independence to an unacceptable degree. Almost all the institutions examined are well-equipped with personnel and financial resources.
High standards for taking action
A critical evaluation of the situation in Germany reveals high standards. However, despite a relatively good legal framework there are numerous gaps in the regulations. There is also room for improving the practical implementation of anti-corruption measures. The report includes a list of 84 recommendations to strengthen corruption prevention and punishment.
According to Edda Müller, chair of Transparency Germany, 'There's no easy recipe for a solid integrity system. The complexity and high standards characteristic of an effective anti-corruption policy are reflected in our checklist of 84 recommendations.'
International conventions inadequately implemented
Important reforms are due in Germany. These reforms are prerequisites to implementing the international conventions and treaties on corruption. Germany must quickly and effectively put them in place in order to support the effectiveness of international mechanisms. In the first place, the statutory offense on the bribery of parliamentarians must be tightened. This is vital so Germany can ratify the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
Edda Müller says, 'The pending ratification of international anti-corruption treaties threatens to push Germany to the international sidelines. It is also impossible to explain to citizens in the country why the regulations on the bribery of parliamentarians cannot be brought in line with international requirements.'
The Council of Europe's Civil and Criminal Law Conventions on Corruption have also yet to be fully implemented. Laws on whistleblower protection in the private sector must be strengthened to ratify the Council of Europe's Civil Law Convention.
Improved resources and independence necessary for law enforcement, judiciary and the media
Law enforcement and justice officials are overburdened, a problem that can be eased by boosting personnel and financial resources. Clearer legal provisions and more efficient legal procedures would also be useful.
Overall the independence and competence of the judiciary and legal proceedings in Germany are acknowledged. Yet the autonomy of regional public prosecutors from their justice ministries needs to be safeguarded in order to prevent suspicion of political influence.
Developments in the media are also worrying. The difficult economic situation faced by publishers and media outlets, especially among the print media, may result in journalists being less critical in their reporting . Potential conflicts of interest, television presenters being a case in point, need to be managed by appropriate codes of conduct and transparency standards.
Better implementation of corruption prevention and punishment in practice
Shortfalls in the implementation of existing regulations are observed There are numerous exceptions contained in the freedom of information laws at federal and Länder-level. This leads to citizens' right to access data held by the state being underutilized.
There is a basic positive trend towards transparency in state dealings, but the rate of change is far too slow. Non-transparent agreements between public and private bodies, and closed-door negotiations between business and government, provide frequent scope for criticism.
Despite positive developments, corruption prevention systems are not widespread enough in either the business or the public sector. Exemplary projects need to be more clearly highlighted to pass on best practices. Civil society also has to strengthen its efforts towards more transparency, integrity, and accountability.
Party donations continue to come in for criticism. There is still no obligation to publicize political party sponsoring. The transparency of party donations needs to be improved, and party sponsoring should comply with the same rules.
The National Integrity System assessment/report for Germany illustrates that anti-corruption and integrity are not discussed enough in schools and universities. There is no public campaign about the damage caused by corruption in Germany. The aim should be to increase citizen awareness of the dangers of corruption, and the channels available to expose abuses.
Bigger efforts required from parties, public bodies and business
According to the National Integrity System assessment for Germany, political parties, public sector and business need to considerably strengthen their efforts to fight corruption. Leaders in these areas are called on to put the issue higher on the agenda and push it forward.
Transparency Germany has asked all the parties represented in the German parliament to provide a written response to the 84 recommendations. The aim is to present the results in a public event. 'The report shows that parties have not focused enough on anti-corruption in their party platforms. We expect a bigger effort from the parties in anti-corruption policy,' says Edda Müller.
The study is part of an initiative to fight corruption which is financed by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Home Affairs, as part of its programme for preventing and combating crime. National Integrity System studies are currently compiled for 26 European countries. They all use a standard rating system developed by Transparency International.
The National Integrity System (NIS) study provides a broad analysis concentrated on the national level. 13 institutions ('pillars') are examined in total - legislature, executive, judiciary, public sector, law enforcement agencies, electoral management bodies, ombudsman, supreme audit institution, anti-corruption agencies, political parties, media, civil society and business.
The report examines the legal framework and the actual institutional practice in each of those 13 areas. It answers concrete questions about resources, independence, transparency, accountability and integrity. The role of each institution in promoting the integrity of the overall system is also highlighted, as well as their relationship to each other.
The National Integrity System report for Germany was put together by GP-Forschungsgruppe for Transparency Germany under the guidance of Dieter Korczak. A twelve-person advisory board oversaw the completion of the study.
You can find the full report as an e-book, FAQs on the NIS concept, and a podcast about the report featuring Edda Müller on the National Integrity System Germany website.
For any press enquiries please contact
Edda Müller, Chair of Board
Christian Humborg, Managing Director
Transparency International Germany (Berlin)
T.: 030/ 54 98 98 0