New anti-corruption law in France shows progress but does not go far enough
Transparency France welcomes major progress to fight foreign bribery and protect whistleblowers
Transparency France welcomes the new anti-corruption law passed on 9 November as a breakthrough. Nonetheless, the greater emphasis on fighting foreign bribery and the whistleblower protection requirement will not be enough to meet all the challenges posed by the fight against corruption in France.
We urgently ask the presidential candidates to commit to forging ahead with strengthening France’s anti-corruption efforts.
According to Daniel Lebègue, President of Transparency International France: “Although the Sapin 2 legislation contains major advances to better fight corruption and enhance the transparency of public life, we do not intend to leave matters there. It is absolutely necessary to forge ahead with the rejuvenation of our public life. We therefore call upon presidential candidates to commit themselves now to concrete proposals with a view to renewing democracy”.
This new piece of legislation called “Sapin 2” reflects significant progress:
- To protect whistle-blowers, the law will institute a general status for whistle-blowers in accordance with international standards as well as Transparency France’s guiding principles and a petition signed by 17 NGOs.
- To fight foreign bribery, this act will supplement French legislation with an innovative settlement scheme that Transparency France had recommended for a long time; its goal is to put to an end the impunity of French companies that corrupt foreign public officials. Other legal improvements will make it easier for prosecutors to address foreign bribery.
- To prevent and detect corruption, the law will establish a new anti-corruption agency provided with enhanced capacities. It will make it mandatory for companies of specific sizes to implement a compliance program (code of business ethics, compliance officer, risk assessment, training, whistleblowing systems, etc.). A new offense for non-compliance will be also created.
- To regulate lobbying activities, a single digital public register of lobbyists will be created in which lobbyists will have to provide information on their respective activities, budget and staff.
Despite such progress, Transparency France warns that the fact that the independence of the future anti-corruption agency will not be fully ensured as it will be placed under the joint authority of two ministries (Justice and Finance). Better independence is an essential condition to fully guarantee the credibility of this new anti-corruption system.
As regards lobbying regulation, Transparency France is also greatly disappointed that the public register will not be mandatory for all organisations with lobbying activities (trade unions, religious associations, associations of local governments).
Lobbying regulation is one of the important topics that presidential candidates will have to take a stance on. They will also have to clearly express their views on other recommendations made by our organisation in order to address the increasing lack of trust in public institutions: financing of political activities, holding multiple offices, independence of the judiciary, citizen participation, integrity of public decision-makers.
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