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Convention against corruption involving officials

The Council strengthens judicial cooperation between the Member States in the fight against corruption involving European officials or officials of Member States of the European Union.

ACT

Council Act of 26 May 1997 drawing up the Convention made on the basis of Article K.3 (2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union, on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union [Official Journal C 195 of 25 June 1997].

SUMMARY

By this Act, the Council is establishing a Convention designed to fight corruption involving European officials or national officials of Member States of the European Union (EU).

On the basis of this Convention, each Member State must take the necessary measures to ensure that conduct constituting an act of passive corruption or active corruption by officials is a punishable criminal offence.

The Convention also provides that Member States must ensure that conduct constituting an act of passive or active corruption, as well as participating in and instigating these acts, is punishable by criminal penalties. In serious cases, these could include penalties involving deprivation of liberty which can give rise to extradition. In addition, Member States must take the necessary measures to allow heads of businesses or any persons having power to take decisions or exercise control within a business to be declared criminally liable in cases of active corruption by a person under their authority acting on behalf of the business.

Each Member State must take the measures necessary to set up its jurisdiction over the offences it has established in accordance with the obligations arising out of this Convention in the following cases:

  • when the offence is committed in whole or in part within its territory;
  • when the offender is one of its nationals or one of its officials;
  • when the offence is committed against European or national officials or against a member of the EU institutions who is also one of its nationals;
  • when the offender is a European official working for a European Community institution, agency or body that has its headquarters in the Member State in question.

If any procedure in connection with an offence established in accordance with the obligations arising out of the Convention concerns at least two Member States, those States must cooperate in the investigation and prosecution and in carrying out the punishment imposed.

The relevant national criminal law must apply the principle whereby a person whose trial has been finally disposed of in a Member State may not be prosecuted in another Member State in respect of the same facts, provided that if a penalty was imposed, it has been enforced, is actually in the process of being enforced or can no longer be enforced under the laws of the sentencing State. However, exceptions to this principle are possible.

Member States may adopt internal legal provisions which go beyond the obligations set out in the Convention.

In the event of a dispute between Member States over the interpretation or application of the Convention, and in the absence of a bilateral resolution, the case must be examined by the Council in accordance with the procedure set out in Title VI of the EU Treaty. If the Council has not found a solution within six months, one of the parties to the dispute may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Communities. This court also has jurisdiction in disputes between a Member State and the European Commission.

The Convention entered into force on 28 September 2005. It is open to accession by any State that becomes a member of the EU. Of the Member States that joined the EU on 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic and Malta still have to accede to the Convention.

Context

Fighting corruption and fraud within the European institutions is a top priority for the EU. At international level, the Commission proposed a Council decision in 2006 relating to the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against corruption. In addition, EU Member States cooperate with non-member countries within international organisations. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe have adopted conventions in this area.

On 14 April 2005 the Council ("Justice and Home Affairs") adopted a resolution concerning a comprehensive EU policy against corruption [PDF], in which it urges the Member States that have not already done so to ratify and implement inter alia the European Union Convention on the fight against corruption involving European officials or officials of Member States of the EU.

Key words in the Act
  • Official: any European or national official, including any national official of another Member State.
  • European official: any person who is an official or other contracted employee within the meaning of the Staff Regulations of Officials or the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities, as well as any person seconded to the European Communities by the Member States or by any public or private body who carries out functions equivalent to those performed by European Community officials or other servants.
  • National official: official or public officer as defined by the national law of the Member State in which the person in question performs that function for the purposes of application of the criminal law of that Member State.
  • Passive corruption: the deliberate action of an official, who, directly or through an intermediary, requests or receives advantages of any kind whatsoever, for himself or for a third party, or accepts a promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in accordance with his duty or in the exercise of his functions in breach of his official duties.
  • Active corruption: the deliberate action of whosoever promises or gives, directly or through an intermediary, an advantage of any kind whatsoever to an official for himself or for a third party for him to act or refrain from acting in accordance with his duty or in the exercise of his functions in breach of his official duties.

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision of 8 November 2007 concerning the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3(2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union [Official Journal L 304 of 22 November 2007].

By this decision, Bulgaria and Romania accede to the Convention against corruption involving officials.

Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption [COM(2006) 82 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Through this proposal, the Council will make a decision which will allow the Community to become party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption within the limits of its powers.

Consultation procedure (CNS/2006/0023).

Council Decision 2003/642/JHA of 22 July 2003 concerning the application to Gibraltar of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union [Official Journal L 226 of 10 September 2003]

No provision was made in the Convention on corruption regarding its application to Gibraltar, whose international relations are the responsibility of the United Kingdom. This Decision extends application of the Convention to Gibraltar.

Explanatory Report on the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union (text approved by the Council on 3 December 1998) [Official Journal C 391 of 15 December 1998]

First Protocol to the Convention on the protection of the Communities' financial interests [Official Journal C 313 of 23 October 1996]

With regard to corruption relating to protection of the Communities' financial interests the Council adopted a first Protocol to the Convention of 26 July 1995 on 27 September 1996, which also focuses on definition of the concepts of "official" and active and passive "corruption" and on harmonisation of the penalties for corruption offences. An Explanatory Report on the Protocol was adopted on 19 December 1997 [Official Journal C 11 of 15 January 1998].

Council Act of 26 July 1995drawing up the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests [Official Journal C 316 of 27 November 1995).

Last updated: 25.02.2008

See also

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