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Integrity Watch Europe: Online tools for the fight against political corruption in Europe

Image: European Union 2013 - European Parliament

Political corruption has been a prominent feature of recent elections across the EU. In this regard, the Integrity Watch Project seeks to provide law enforcement, citizens, civil society and journalists with a series of online tools for the detection and prevention of political corruption in eight EU Member States.

This Action is modelled after the successful Integrity Watch platform at the EU level, in France, in Chile and in the UK.

What's at stake?

Political corruption has been a prominent feature of recent elections across world. From politicians running on a promise to “clean up politics” to protests against the influence of lobbyists, popular discontent with special interests is rising.

Through lobbying, political financing, outside activities of elected officials, there are numerous channels used by businesses and special interest groups to sway laws or decisions in their favour. Lobbying, political financing, outside activities are all channels through which money can influence politics. This may skew policy outcomes, reduce corporate taxes, divert subsidies and result in unfair competition.

What we are doing about it

The project seeks to provide law enforcement, citizens, civil society and journalists with a series of online tools – the “Integrity Watch platform” - for the detection and prevention of political corruption in eight EU countries.

We create eight new national “Integrity Watch” platforms in Lithuania, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Spain, Slovenia and update two existing ones in France and for the EU, resulting in significant increase in the use of data to foster political integrity in participating chapters. This results in the single largest database on political integrity in Europe.

The TI Chapters together with TI EU will scope relevant data on lobbying, conflicts of interests, assets and incomes of politicians, revolving doors, or other areas with risks of political corruption. The data will be harmonised and then featured in user-friendly interactive websites.

In addition, the tools will allow us to publish a series of reports containing detailed analysis of the data; identify potential regulatory gaps, best practices and recommendations for improvements.

The project:

  • enables citizens, civil society and journalists to better hold their elected representatives to account
  • supports enforcement agencies in their efforts to detect and sanction corruption and
  • formulates recommendations to address political corruption

Our approach

We can only monitor and promote political integrity and combat corruption if we know the private financial interests of our politicians, who has access to political decision-making, and the means through which they gain such access. This is where data comes in.

A few key datasets have the potential to let the media, civil society and even government oversight and law enforcement institutions exercise the accountability needed for a robust political integrity system: Asset and Income Declarations for politicians and high-ranking public officials, Political Party Donation Registers, and Lobby Registers.

Here is an overview of existing Integrity Watch Europe platforms: