Citizens engaging for a better Europe
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 through Integrity Pacts – agreements between public authorities, companies bidding for a contract and civil society around public works. This workshop focused on how Integrity Pacts seek to ensure transparent and accountable use of ESI Funds by breaking down barriers and involving citizens in the monitoring of European funded projects.
Davide Del Monte from Transparency International Italy moderated the session and introduced the social accountability work carried out in Sardinia within the framework of an Integrity Pact. Citizens of Cagliari are actively involved in monitoring the construction of the city tramway, taking part in workshops and meetings with public authorities. Ernesto Porcu, Director of the Technical Service of Sardinia Regional Transports Company, explained that the Integrity Pact is bringing their work closer to the people in Cagliari and is changing citizens’ attitude towards future investments. In addition, the project allowed him to strengthen the relationship with the private sector, as the Integrity Pact tool fosters a more transparent collaboration with companies.
Salvatore Patamia, Secretary General of the Regional Secretariat for Calabria of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism, shared his experience working with ActionAid to foster civil monitoring on the restoration of one of the most important archaeological sites in southern Italy. He witnessed how, thanks to the Integrity Pact tool and its bottom-up approach to clean contracting, citizens can better understand the procurement process and the impact that the European funded project has on the territory. His experience proves that when public authorities, CSOs, and local communities collaborate through Integrity Pacts, a participatory approach against corruption and official misconduct can be implemented.
Paola Liliana Buttiglione from ActionAid Italy shared the perspective of a CSO in carrying out awareness-raising and capacity building activities to involve local communities in the monitoring of ESI-funded projects. In Calabria, ActionAid organised civic monitoring labs focusing on topics such as public procurement, EU funding, and digital tools for transparency. These meetings aimed to provide local citizens with a set of knowledge and skills that would allow them to continue the monitoring even after the end of the project.
Valeria Ferraris from Amapola talked about how high school students have been involved in the monitoring of a European funded project on energy efficiency, education, and welfare through an Integrity Pact. In Sicily, Amapola organised School Labs to provide young citizens with the necessary competences and tools to become active civic monitors. As part of the training, students interviewed public officials and inspected construction sites.
Take away message
The outstanding achievements in Italy prove how Integrity Pact is a tool that allows citizens active engagement. This is possible through the crucial contribution of independent monitors, who continuously involve citizens in understanding how EU funding and national procurement ecosystems function. Citizens are brought together through monitoring visits, public debates or integrity schools. These public gatherings, coupled with full access to information, ensure that citizens feel closer to the EU, demanding transparency and accountability from public institutions using EU funds.
Ernesto Porcu: “Integrity Pacts promote transparency in all parties involved. Personally, this tool helped me to strengthen my relationship with the private sector by fostering transparency through all phases of the procurement process."
Valeria Ferraris: “Through the Integrity Pact, we attracted citizens’ attention on how European funds are spent and provided students with the necessary competences and tools to become active civic monitors of public procurement procedures.”
Paola Liliana Buttiglione: "Thanks to the Integrity Pact, in Calabria we are implementing a participatory approach against corruption and official misconduct. Thus far, we have not identified any serious irregularity in the procurement process, which is very reassuring news for both the contracting authority and the monitor."