Civil society helping to bring ESIF closer to citizens
In 2016, the European Commission and Transparency International joined forces to tackle corruption in public procurement in EU-funded investments. They launched the Integrity Pacts project, a pilot initiative to test civil monitoring on a large scale and promote more transparent and accountable use of ESIF through Integrity Pacts – agreements between public authorities, companies bidding for a contract and civil society around public works.
This workshop, moderated by Irina Lonean from Transparency International Romania, focused on the central role of civil society in this initiative. Representatives of the public sector and CSOs from Greece, Romania and Slovenia shared their experiences implementing Integrity Pacts in their countries to date.
Ileana Spiroiu, Deputy Director of the National Agency for Cadastre and Land Registration (ANCPI) of Romania, shared her experience working with Transparency International Romania and the Institute for Public Policy in undertaking a mammoth task of registering properties across the country in the cadastre and land book system. By collaborating with CSOs, ANCPI aims to promote transparency in contracting activities and foster citizens’ trust in public agencies. At the same time, the IP project benefits private companies, as it helps improve competition by fostering the participation of bidders in the bidding procedures.
Dimitris Drosis, Head of the Managing Authority of the Attica Region, shared his experience with the implementation of an Integrity Pact on the construction of a massive flood defense system, which will directly affect thousands of suburban Athenians. Through the Integrity Pact project, the Managing Authority of the Attica Region is collaborating with Transparency International Greece to explore ways of bringing its work closer to citizens. To increase the project visibility, TI Greece launched a dedicated website and the Managing Authority organises regular technical meetings with associations of companies participating in public procurement processes.
Zorislava Cimperman, construction engineer and Project Manager of the Slovenian Ministry of Health, talked about the fruitful collaboration with Transparency International Slovenia in the implementation of an Integrity Pact on the energy renovation of hospitals. She explained how the cooperation with a civil society organisation through an Integrity Pact adds significant value to EU-funded projects, as an independent monitor can provide useful recommendations through all tender phases.
Vasja Cepic from Transparency International Slovenia shared the perspective of a CSO in implementing an Integrity Pact. He explained how, despite initial questions on the role of the independent monitor, the cooperation with the Ministry progressed over time. Thanks to transparent communication and a positive attitude towards joint work from both sides, TI Slovenia could advance a number of recommendations to the Ministry, which were integrated in the procurement process. The experience of the Integrity Pact implemented in Slovenia shows how this tool helps enhance trust in public authorities and foster clean public procurement in EU-funded projects.
Take away message
The experience of the Integrity Pacts project has so far shown how instrumental civil society is in bringing citizens closer to the EU. The monitors – civil society organisations – ensure clean contracting through increased social accountability. They involve citizens in the monitoring process to strengthen transparency and accountability of involved contracting and procuring authorities as well as the private sector. In turn, civil society enhances citizens' trust in authorities, government and EU institutions, bringing them closer to ESIF.
Ileana Spiroiu: “One of the most important aspects of an Integrity Pact is that it benefits all actors involved: through the collaboration with CSOs it promotes transparency in contracting activities, fosters citizens’ trust in public agencies, and improves competition in the private sector.”
Zorislava Cimperman: “The cooperation between the Slovenian Ministry of Health and Transparency International Slovenia has so far been very fruitful. In two words, I would describe it as strong and substantial. TI Slovenia’s contributions as independent monitor were a great added value to the project.”
Dimitris Drosis: “By involving a CSO in the monitoring of the construction works of an anti-flood system, the Integrity Pact implemented in Greece helps ensure the clean implementation of an EU-funded project that directly affects the lives of thousands of citizens.”
Vasja Cepic: “Our collaboration with the Slovenian Ministry of Health is characterised by transparent communication and a positive attitude towards joint work. This allowed us to make several recommendations to improve transparency in the public procurement system.”