International Monetary Fund
On 18 September, Christine Lagarde, General Director of the International Monetary Fund, called for a better analysis and measure of corruption. The economic impact of bribes paid each year represent about 2% of the global growth direct product. « New methodologies are needed to better quantify and analyze the problem », the General Director said, yet acknowledging that corruption is by essence hidden and thus remains hardly measurable. She also highlighted the fact that the fight against corruption starts with implementing measures of transparency and accountability.
Council of Europe
On 28 September, the group of states against corruption (GRECO) published the addendum to the second compliance report in the framework of the third evaluation round with regard to incriminations and transparency of party funding. The GRECO notably welcomes the extension of the prescrption delay for corruption-related incriminations and evolutions introduced by the “Sapin II” law with regard to trading in influence in connection with foreign public officials or improving proceedings for corruption cases or trading in influence at a transnational level notably. With regard to transparency of party funding, the GRECO noted progress but regretted that reforms remain limited, notably in terms of monitoring.
During his speech on the state of the Union, on 13 September, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented the new code of conduct for European commissioners, strengthening ethical rules and control of revolving doors, as announced in November 2016, following the appointment of José Manuel Barroso, his predecessor, at Goldman Sachs. Indeed, the cooling off period currently of 18 months, will be extended to two years for Commissioners and three for the President. The notion of conflict of interests is defined for the first time and the code highlights that Commissioners must avoid any situation that would place them or give the appearance to place them in a conflict of interests. The Commissioners will have to disclose any investment or asset valued above 10 000 euros. In cases of conflicts of interests, the President will be able to ask the asset or interest is abandoned or placed in a blind trust. Issue that had also been the object of several complaints to the European Ombudsman, information with regard to travel expenses will be published every two months. The Parliament is being consulted on this text that will enter into force on 1 February 2018.
On the same day, in a press release, the European ombudsman welcomed the strengthening of the ethical rules for Commissioners, in direct line with the recommendations that she had previously drafted notably on the publication of positions of the Ethical Committee, extension of the cooling off period and publication of travel expenses. On the last topic, an inquiry of the Ombudsman is still open and this new code of conduct will be considered in the analysis of the facts and answers of the Commission.
On 14 September, the European Parliament adopted in plenary session the Green member of the European Parliament Sven Giegold’s own-initiative report on “transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions”. The report notably demanded that information on all procedures are accessible to the public. He also reported that if all interest representatives who meet European Commissioners must be registered on the Transparency register, the process is done on a voluntary basis at the European Parliament but the amendment suggested to align both procedures was not adopted.
On 20 September, Politico.eu published an article on Markus Ferber’s potential violation of the code of ethics of members of the European Parliament. Earlier this year, he had invited through his member of the European Parliament credentials and emails big asset management companies to present them a product able to search, compare and analyze the risk associated to different financial instruments, a tool that would satisfy the prerequisites included in the new directive on financial instruments markets (MiFID II) that will enter into force on 1 January 2018 and that he was the European Parliament lead negotiator for. This product was created by a foundation that he co-founded. He did not formally disclose involvement in its activities, asserting that he receives no benefit or payment for his activities. Following the publication of this article, Transparency International European Union called on the European Parliament to clarify this situation and sanction Mr. Ferber should a violation of the code of ethics be ascertained, the occasion for the civil society organization to recall that the committee tasked with controlling potential violations of the code of conduct adopted recommendations in 12 cases of violations, none of which resulted in sanctions for the members of the European Parliament concerned.
Open Government Partnership
On 19 September, in parallel of the United Nations General Assembly, the Open Government Partnership organized a side event on « Rebuilding trust in Government». The Chief executive officer of the OGP, Sanjay Pradhan, opened the event calling on Governments to put citizens first. The speeches of the French President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, for the outgoing co-presidency of the OGP, and of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, for the incoming co-presidency, highlighted the involvement and openness of the French and Georgian governments. A few hours after the end of the United Nations General Assembly, Canada announced it would take the co-presidency for 2017-2018, after Georgia, on three priorities: inclusion, participation and impact.
On 19 September, Transparency International published its tracker for the 453 commitments of the 43 States and 6 international organizations that were present at the London anticorruption Summit in May 2016. The Heads of States had then asked to assess the reforms undertaken on the occasion of the 2017 United Nations General Assembly. The common theme for most of them, following the Panama Papers revelations, was to create a beneficial ownership registry but only 13% of such commitments have been implemented. Nonetheless, Transparency International noted that on tax transparency (30% of promises implemented) and whistleblowers’ protection (36%) more successes can be acknowledged.