Governments and public-office holders should act in an exemplary way by respecting anti-corruption measures and transparency standards, said the Council of Europe anti-corruption body GRECO in its annual report, published on 3.6.2020.
The report reviews the measures to prevent corruption taken in GRECO’s member states in 2019 in respect of parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors, as well as in central governments – including top executive functions – and law enforcement agencies.
Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić said: “Corruption undermines citizens’ trust in democracy and in democratic institutions. Implementing effective anti-corruption measures and promoting integrity and transparency should therefore be a priority for public authorities at all times. States have made progress, but they should step up their efforts to fully implement GRECO´s recommendations”.
GRECO’s president Marin Mrčela expressed concern about widespread corruption allegations in many countries concerning persons in charge of public institutions in recent years. “No person, state or institution is immune to corruption. Politicians, irrespective of their political affiliation, need to lead by example and it is exemplarity which is expected of them. Politicians are meant to serve, not to rule, the people.”, he said.
In 2019, compliance with GRECO recommendations under the 4th evaluation round (slightly) increased: 35% of recommendations had been fully implemented by the end of year. The recommendations with the lowest level of compliance continued to be those issued in respect of MPs (26%), whilst it was higher in respect of judges (36%) and prosecutors (47%). “This explains to a large extent why people’s trust in politics is very low and will be even lower if politicians don’t step up their compliance with integrity standards”, said GRECO’s President.
The report underlines that since the 4th evaluation round began in 2012, nearly half of GRECO’s member states have carried out constitutional reforms following its recommendations. GRECO member states have carried out over 150 concrete legislative, regulatory or institutional reforms to implement GRECO recommendations.
GRECO continued to make progress in the evaluation of the prevention of corruption in governments and law enforcement agencies: 18 countries had been evaluated by the end of 2019. GRECO often found shortcomings in the way countries dealt with lobbying, conflicts of interest and “revolving doors” in central governments, including the need to extend anti-corruption measures to advisers. GRECO’s recommendations on law enforcement agencies referred mostly to codes of conduct, promotion and dismissal, conflicts of interest, post-employment restrictions, and the protection of whistleblowers.
At the end of 2019, 15 countries were subject to GRECO’s 4th round non-compliance procedure: Armenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Turkey. Belarus was the only country in the non-compliance procedure under the joint 1st and 2nd rounds, and the 3rd round.
In 2019, coinciding with its 20th anniversary, GRECO decided to start a new advisory function, by which it will be able to provide, upon request, assistance to member states and Council of Europe bodies by preparing expertise reports.
The report also contains a feature article on the European Public Prosecutor Office by Laura Kovesi, Chief European Public Prosecutor.
The Report is available here