Transparency International (TI), the global coalition against corruption, welcomes the adoption of a new European Union-wide anti-corruption package announced by the European Commission today. This is considered a first step in responding to the issue of corruption in the EU.
The EU’s newly introduced reporting tool has the potential to encourage further anti-corruption efforts on the EU Member State level.
It is hoped that the new reporting tool may help reduce the risk of crises such as in Greece and Portugal in future. It may also assist in the assessment of a country’s public finances for international aid packages, as currently undertaken by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank. However, in the long run, there is an urgent need for a more comprehensive anti-corruption strategy encompassing all EU policies.
In detail, the package will include:
- A Communication on fighting corruption in the EU;
- A Commission Decision establishing an EU anti-corruption reporting mechanism;
- A report on the implementation of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA on combating corruption in the private sector; and
- A report on the modalities of EU participation in the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)
The new EU reporting tool across the EU27 will not replicate anti-corruption review mechanisms already existing under various international standards (UNCAC, OECD, GRECO) but will allow the Commission to evaluate Member States’ progress in upholding their commitments against corruption, highlight particular, country-specific areas of concern and, in so doing, increase the tools available for the Commission to tailor anti-corruption approaches at the Member State level.
Assessment results of the Union’s anti-corruption reporting mechanism will allow the Union to take up a prominent political voice against corruption, integrity gaps and maladministration - all of which come at high cost for society. By so doing, the Commission is ultimately responding to the demands of citizens that want to see the EU lending more weight to the fight against corruption (see e.g. Transparency International's 2010 Global Corruption Barometer).
However, while the Communication shows increased political will in the fight against corruption, there is still more work to be done in ensuring that this political will is matched by a coherent and comprehensive approach. “After paving the way for a more concrete anti-corruption policy, it is now time to define the details and benchmarks of measurement if Member States’ anti-corruption efforts are to be evaluated properly”, says Jana Mittermaier, Head of the TI-EU Office.
The bare minimum for EU anti-corruption action would be, at least, to consolidate information on the implementation and enforcement of the already existing and binding international and regional anti-corruption instruments at Member State level. “A regular report outlining corruption risk areas can act as an early-warning tool against future corruption-related crises across EU Member States and be a springboard towards fostering new developments,” says Mittermaier.
To live up to EU citizens’ expectations and to tackle corruption in the European Union the Commission should apply a holistic approach, including:
- Simultaneous, timely assessment of the state of affairs of all 27 EU Member States;
- Flexible assessment of country-specific areas that are particularly prone to corruption;
- Consolidated information on Member States’ anti-corruption efforts (incl. UNCAC, OECD and GRECO review results) in a regional report, including all country-by-country reports;
- Effective in terms of publicly encouraging compliance by outlining corruption risks, trends and possible weaknesses and offering best practices and, thus, ideally foster exchange among EU Member States
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption
Note to Editors: Transparency International (TI) has chapters in most EU member states, accession candidates and potential candidate states.
For any press enquiries please contact
Jana Mittermaier, Head of Office
Transparency International Liaison Office to the EU
T: +320 23 58 621
E: [email protected]