TI urges the EU to adopt measures to enable stolen assets to be frozen, confiscated and repatriated
The European Commission's Comprehensive EU Policy Against Corruption "reflects real change that has occurred during the past few years in terms of awareness and, more importantly, concrete steps in several areas," according to Transparency International (TI), the leading global non-governmental organisation combating corruption worldwide.
A representative of TI-Brussels said today that TI had been calling for this Commission strategy document ever since it presented its November 1999 memorandum, Fighting corruption: what remains to be done at EU level. The publication of the policy document is a "welcome development", he said, adding that it "represents a very useful stock-taking exercise".
Whilst the European and international legal framework is now in place - with the exception of the UN Convention Against Corruption - "the emphasis must be for those States that have not yet done so, on rapid ratification of all relevant agreements and their translation into national law. The focus must then be on enforcement and monitoring." To date, no cases are known to have been brought before the courts under new legislation on cross-border corruption.
Contrary to the Commission's view, TI believes that there is scope for an EU mechanism to monitor the implementation of EU instruments and initiatives, and urges the EU to establish such a mechanism. This is particularly important in view of the imminent enlargement of the EU, as corruption is a serious problem in many accession countries.
TI encourages the Commission to explore ways to facilitate the burden of proof for law enforcement authorities, in order to help break the "pact of silence" between bribe-payer and bribe-taker. Would it be conceivable to reverse the burden of proof as some third countries have done?
In the field of public procurement, TI attaches particular importance to blacklisting, i.e. exclusion from further contracts of companies caught in corrupt acts. Blacklisting is one of the most effective deterrents. It becomes ineffective, however, if conditional upon a final judgement in a criminal trial; such cases are much too rare and lengthy. TI has consistently argued that, short of a final judgement, convincing evidence should suffice for blacklisting. TI welcomes a recent move of Commission services in this direction as far as procurement financed from EU budget resources is concerned.
Political corruption (e.g. political party and campaign financing) is high on TI's agenda, and TI is looking forward to proposals from the Commission on this subject.
In foreign aid programmes, TI recommends the introduction in all cooperation agreements where financial aid is a significant component of clauses similar to the exemplary rules of the Cotonou Agreement on good governance and the fight against corruption. TI regrets, however, that the performance of partner countries in terms of good governance - in particular as expressed by their determination to fight corruption - seems not to have obtained so far sufficient weight as a criterion for aid allocation.
According to TI-Brussels, "it is regrettable that there is no reference in the Commission policy to the problem of freezing, confiscating and repatriating stolen assets. EU and Member States should show their readiness to deliver on the political commitment made in this respect at the Africa-Europe Summit held in Cairo in April 2000."
In addition, as far as the fight against corruption within EU institutions is concerned, TI stresses the need to encourage civil servants to take more responsibility and for the EU to provide ethics training, rather than to add supplementary rules and controls to existing mechanisms and procedures. Conversely, TI calls for implementing rules to resolve conflicts of interest situations, which frequently occur when officials leave EU institutions.
For any press enquiries please contact
Transparency International Brussels asbl
39, Square Vergote B - 1030 Bruxelles
Tel: +32 2 735 65 58 -
Fax: +32 2 732 90 26 -