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Brussels, 6 June 2011
Commission steps up efforts to forge a comprehensive anti-corruption policy at EU level
Why is the Commission proposing to boost anti-corruption policy at EU level?
With the adoption of the Stockholm Programme, Member States agreed to give the Commission a political mandate to measure efforts in the fight against corruption and to develop a comprehensive anti-corruption policy, in close cooperation with the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).
The Union has a general right to act in the field of anti-corruption policies within the limits established by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In particular, the EU should ensure a high level of security, including through prevention and combating of crime and approximation of criminal laws. Corruption is one of the particularly serious crimes that has a cross-border dimension. It is often linked to other form of serious crime, such as trafficking in drugs and human beings, and cannot be adequately addressed by Member States alone.
What is the existing anti-corruption framework?
A number of anti-corruption legal instruments are already in place at EU, European and international level, but implementation within EU Member States remains overall insufficient.
How can a Report generate progress in the fight against corruption?
Monitoring performances in the fight against corruption through a form of reporting can help create the necessary momentum for firmer political commitment from all decision-makers in the EU. A number of periodic evaluation and assessment processes have been implemented in several EU policy areas, where they have brought tangible benefits for tackling key issues and addressing challenges faced by the EU and its Member States. In the past, we have also seen that monitoring by civil society organisations has played an important role in addressing problems of corruption.
An EU own mechanism will allow for the periodic assessment of anti-corruption efforts in the Member States with a view to nurturing the political will for stepping up anti-corruption efforts and reinforcing mutual trust among the Member States. It will also facilitate the exchange of best practices, identify EU trends, gather comparable data on the EU 27 and stimulate peer learning and further compliance with EU and international commitments. Moreover, an EU reporting mechanism will prepare the ground for future EU policy initiatives in the area of anti-corruption.
How does the EU mechanism fit with the existing monitoring tools at international and European level?
The EU Report will avoid overlapping with other tools already in place at international level, such as the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the OECD Working Group on Bribery and the review mechanism of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). These monitoring mechanisms have proven their use in bringing corruption related problems on to the political agenda and have led to improvements in the legal framework. However, each of them has several features limiting their potential to effectively address the problems associated with corruption at EU level.
Our EU Report is aims to create synergies with existing mechanisms, on the one hand, and to focus on the 'blind spots' of these mechanisms, on the other hand.
How will the EU Report be drawn up?
The monitoring exercise set up by the Commission will avoid duplication of work and will not impose additional burdens on Member States' administrations.
The EU Anti-Corruption Report will be managed by the Commission. The Commission will use available data and recommendations from existing mechanisms, but enrich them with civil society input, independent experts and researchers' analysis. Other sources of information from the Commission's services covering connected policy areas and various perception indicators will also be used to carry out the assessment.
The Report will each time focus on a limited number of issues and comprise:
Why is the Commission also proposing that the EU participate in GRECO?
A combination of tools can achieve greater results. That is why the Commission is also proposing that the EU participate in GRECO, to stimulate political will among Member States and ensure a coherent approach to the fight against corruption in Europe. All EU Member States are already participating in GRECO, the existing anti-corruption monitoring instrument of the Council of Europe, but a reinforced cooperation between the EU and GRECO would create synergies with the newly established EU anti-corruption reporting mechanism.
GRECO's evaluations are confidential but its expertise would be a pivotal source of information for the Commission's Anti-Corruption Report. GRECO could, in particular, provide input to the EU monitoring mechanism in the form of comparative analyses of the existing GRECO evaluation and compliance reports on the EU Member States, and an indication of key outstanding recommendations requiring additional follow-up.
EU participation in GRECO was already outlined as a key element of EU anti-corruption policy in the Communication of 28 May 2003 and practical modalities were since explored. The Council will now consider the options identified in the Commission's report. On that basis, the Commission will request that the Council authorise the opening of negotiations for the EU's participation GRECO.
What else needs to be done?
Apart from a stronger monitoring and a proper implementation of existing legal instruments against corruption, the Commission foresees a wide range of actions at EU level. There must be a greater emphasis on fighting corruption in all relevant EU policies, both internal and external. For instance: