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The Commission presents a set of measures aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption in the European Union (EU) and the political will of Member States to combat corruption effectively.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 6 June 2011 – Fighting corruption in the EU [COM (2011) 308 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
Corruption affects all countries of the European Union (EU) to various degrees. Corruption is harmful, not only financially but also socially, because it is often used to mask other serious crimes such as trafficking in drugs or human beings. In addition, it can weaken citizens’ trust in democratic institutions and their political leaders.
Several anti-corruption instruments exist at international and EU level, but their implementation by Member States remains uneven.
In order to strengthen the political will, in all Member States, to tackle this problem, the Commission announces the setting up of an Anti-Corruption Report and calls on EU countries to implement the existing anti-corruption instruments more effectively. It also presents measures aimed at a stronger focus on corruption in EU internal and external policies.
Starting in 2013, the Commission will publish an Anti-Corruption Report every two years as an EU evaluation and monitoring mechanism. The Report will identify trends and weaknesses that need to be addressed, and stimulate exchange of best practices. It will give a better reflection of the efforts made and problems encountered, and of the causes of corruption.
The Report will be based on data from different sources, including the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations, but also from independent experts, research findings, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Eurojust, Europol, the European Anti-Corruption Network, Member States, Eurobarometer surveys and civil society.
Implementation of existing instruments
The Commission urges the EU countries to transpose all European legislation against corruption in the private sector into their national law and to ensure that it is applied properly.
It also asks the Member States that have not already done so to ratify the existing international anti-corruption instruments: the Criminal Law Convention and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Convention.
The Commission also intends to enhance cooperation with those international authorities and will request EU participation in the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) created within the Council of Europe.
Focus on corruption in EU policies
Anti-corruption should be an integral part of all relevant EU policies, both internal and external.
Internally, the Commission intends in particular to strengthen judicial and police cooperation in the field of corruption, in collaboration with Europol, Eurojust, the European Police College (CEPOL) and OLAF. It also aims to improve the training of law enforcement officials in this field.
The Commission will also propose modernised EU rules on confiscation of criminal assets to ensure that courts in Member States are able to effectively confiscate and recover criminal assets, including in cases involving corruption. Because corruption is often linked to money laundering, the Commission will present a strategy in 2012 to strengthen the quality of criminal financial investigations. Lastly, to gain a better measure of the extent of corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures, an Action Plan to improve statistics on crime and criminal justice is under preparation.
The Commission will also focus on modernising EU rules governing public procurement, accounting standards and statutory audit for EU companies. It has also adopted an Anti-Fraud Strategy against fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union.
Externally, the Commission will continue to focus strongly on the monitoring of anti-corruption policies in candidate countries and potential candidates for EU accession. It plans to make this fight a key aspect of the support given by the EU to countries participating in the Neighbourhood Policy. With regard to cooperation and development policies, the Commission promotes greater use of the conditionality principle, i.e. making compliance with international anti-corruption standards a condition of cooperation and development assistance.