01 / 12 / 2020

European Union

On Wednesday 18 December, Irishwoman Emily O’Reilly, a European mediator since 2013, was re-elected for a five-year term during a plenary session of the European Parliament held in Strasbourg, with a narrow majority of 320 votes out of 600. It took three rounds before she gained a majority over her main rival Julia Laffranque, an Estonian judge at the European Court of Human Rights. (Le Monde, 19 December 2019) (Europarl, 18 December 2019

Atos, a company that until recently was still run by Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, revised its 2018 lobbying expenditures upwards in the European Transparency Register. After correction, a total of around one million euros now appears on the company’s declaration, 18 times more than it originally declared. There are numerous errors and inconsistencies in the EU’s official transparency register, which is supposed to list the activities of almost 12, 000 registered lobbies working in Brussels. Most may be due to negligence and calculation errors, but there are also a number of companies that revise their figures downwards in order to preserve their image. Contexte highlights the fact that there are not enough human resources available to carry out any substantial checking of declarations completed by lobbyists, as well as the lack of sanctions and the optional character of such declarations. (Contexte, 10 December 2019)

Council of Europe

Poland’s compliance with the recommendations issued by the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) has been deemed “globally unsatisfactory” according to a follow-up assessment published on 16 December of corruption among members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. Poland implemented seven of sixteen recommendations and only one of the six recommendations made in the context of a more recent “ad hoc” procedure bearing on a series of judicial reforms (2016-2018) that had aroused harsh criticism. The European Commission notably initiated disciplinary proceedings against Warsaw. Given the very low level of compliance with its recommendations, GRECO requested the head of the Polish delegation to provide a report on the state of progress of implementation of recommendations currently on hold before the end of 2020. (Council of Europe, 16 December 2019)

European Partners Against Corruption

The 19th annual conference of the European Partners Against Corruption network (EPAC/EACN) was held in Stockholm, Sweden from 10 to 12 December. Created in 2001, EPAC is an informal network bringing together anti-corruption authorities and police oversight bodies of Member States of the European Union and Council of Europe. Over a hundred participants took part in the event, under the theme “Understanding underlying mechanisms of corruption, global challenges and preventive measures”

United Nations

The eighth Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) was held in Abu Dhabi from 16 to 20 December 2019. COSP is the main governing body of the Convention, which, with its 186 signatories, is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. Fifteen resolutions were adopted over the course of the week; bearing on the work of anti-corruption and audit bodies, parliaments and financial intelligence services, and such issues as public sector integrity, awareness-raising, prevention, environmental criminality and corruption in sport. The ninth session is set to take place in Egypt in 2021. (UNODC, 20 December 2019)