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.
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].
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.
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|