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Commission fights corruption: a stronger commitment for greater results

Commission Européenne - IP/11/678   06/06/2011

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European Commission - Press release

Commission fights corruption: a stronger commitment for greater results

Brussels, 6 June 2011 - Today the Commission proposed a set of measures to address more vigorously the serious harm corruption causes to European societies – economically, socially and politically. Four out of five EU citizens regard corruption as a major problem in their Member State. Corruption is estimated to cost the economy of the EU €120 billion per year1. That is one percent of the EU GDP, and represents only a little less than the annual budget of the European Union. This makes it clear that there is a need for firm political commitment to fight this crime. The Commission is today taking a first step, by setting up a new mechanism, the EU Anti-Corruption Report, to monitor and assess Member States' efforts against corruption and encourage more political engagement. This will help Member States to better enforce legislation and fully implement their international commitments, as well as to improve the coherence of their anti-corruption policies and actions.

"The fight against corruption needs priority attention. While there is quite sophisticated legal frameworks at international and European level, we have seen that implementation among EU Member States is very uneven. It is clear to me that there is not enough determination amongst politicians and decision-makers to fight this crime. Our Anti-Corruption Report can generate the political will to act by giving a clear picture of anti-corruption efforts and achievements, but also pointing out failures and vulnerabilities across the 27 EU Member States. At the same time, we should make sure that there is a stronger focus on corruption in all relevant EU policies. Fighting corruption successfully is a constant struggle, and the measures we propose today are only one part of a more comprehensive response to the challenges that corruption poses to our societies. I take those challenges very seriously. That is why I will propose further actions along these lines in the coming years, such as new rules for confiscating criminal assets, a plan for how to improve the gathering of crime statistics, and an strategy to improve criminal financial investigations in Member States", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Although differing in nature and in extent, corruption harms all Member States and the EU as a whole, lowering investment levels, hampering the fair operation of the internal market and reducing public finances. Whether it takes the form of political corruption, corrupt activities committed by and with organised criminal groups, private-to-private corruption or so-called petty corruption, the abuse of power for private gain is not acceptable and can have serious impacts. The core of today's initiatives is the establishment of a new evaluation mechanism to assess anti-corruption efforts in the EU. This EU Anti-Corruption Report will identify trends and weaknesses that need to be addressed, as well as stimulate peer learning and exchange of best practices. It will be issued by the Commission every two years, starting in 2013, and be based on inputs from a variety of sources, including the existing monitoring mechanisms (by the Council of Europe, the OECD and the United Nations), independent experts, stakeholders and civil society. In parallel, the EU should negotiate its participation in the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) to create synergies between both mechanisms.

To address corruption more effectively, Member States should better implement the anti-corruption legal instruments already in place at the European and international level. The EU should also put greater emphasis on corruption considerations through all relevant EU policies, both internal and external. The Commission will therefore follow up today's initiative by proposing modernised EU rules on confiscation of criminal assets later this year, a strategy to improve criminal financial investigations in Member States in 2012, and an Action Plan for better crime statistics. The Commission together with EU agencies such as Europol, Eurojust and CEPOL, as well as with OLAF, will step up judicial and police cooperation and improve training of law enforcement officials. It will work towards modernised EU rules on public procurement and accounting standards and statutory audit for EU companies. It will also adopt a strategy to combat fraud affecting the financial interests of the EU in 2011. In parallel, the Commission will put a stronger focus on anti-corruption issues within the EU enlargement process and - together with the High Representative - in our neighbourhood policy. Greater use of conditionality will be made in our cooperation and development policies.

Background

The anti-corruption package adopted today consists of:

  • A Communication on fighting corruption in the EU, which presents the objectives of the EU Anti-Corruption Report and the practical aspects of its functioning. The Communication also explains how the EU should place greater emphasis on corruption in all relevant internal and external policies;

  • A Commission Decision establishing this EU anti-corruption reporting mechanism;

  • A Report on the implementation of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA on combating corruption in the private sector;

  • A Report on the modalities of EU participation in the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

Next steps

The set of measures adopted today are part of a wider agenda to protect Europe's licit economy, as set out in the EU Internal Security Strategy in Action presented by the Commission in November 2010 (IP/10/1535). This autumn, the Commission will also propose a revised EU legal framework on confiscation and recovery of criminal assets and an Action Plan for how to improve the gathering of crime statistics.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Homepage of DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)

1 :

This figure is based on estimates by specialised institutions and bodies, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, Transparency International, UN Global Compact, World Economic Forum, Clean Business is Good Business, 2009, which suggest that corruption amounts to 5% of GDP at world level.


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