The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) warns that new legislative initiatives in some European countries risk disrupting previously adopted reforms to strengthen corruption prevention, which could represent violations of the anti-corruption standards of the Council of Europe, the report for 2017, released on Thursday, informs.
According to the report, GRECO’s activities in 2017 have been sustained in spite of some headwinds. Six evaluation reports, 40 compliance reports, one re-assessment report, and the evaluation reports of the integrity frameworks of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and of the Conference of INGOs’ were adopted in 2017. The decision by the Russian Federation to suspend payment of the outstanding balance of its 2017 budgetary contribution to the Council of Europe directly impacted GRECO’s budget. Prudent budget management and additional voluntary financial contributions by other member States (Monaco, Slovak Republic) filled part of the gap and enabled GRECO to carry out most (but not all) of its work programme, postponing only a few compliance reports to 2018. In certain countries, new legislative initiatives reversed reforms previously undertaken to comply with GRECO’s recommendations, or started reforms which may result in that country’s serious violation of a Council of Europe anti-corruption standard, leading GRECO to either reassess the new legislation (Greece) or launch its new Rule 34 procedure for ad hoc evaluations in exceptional circumstances (Romania, Poland).
In 2017, allegations or confirmed cases of corruption have occurred in many countries and institutions.
Following the allegations of corruption and fostering of interests made against certain members or former members of PACE, its Committee on Rules of Procedures, Immunities and Institutional Affairs requested GRECO’s expertise to assess the Code of Conduct of PACE members, notably as regards the enforcement system and the sanctions regime, as well as the rules relating to lobbying. GRECO adopted and published its assessment of PACE’s integrity framework in June 2017.
In the wake of PACE’s request, the President of the Conference of INGOs also requested an appraisal by GRECO of the measures that could be taken by the Conference to reinforce its own provisions and better protect against risks of corruption and conflicts of interest. GRECO adopted and published the INGOs Conference assessment in October 2017. In both cases, GRECO issued comprehensive and precise recommendations to develop and/or strengthen, as the case may be, these institutions’ integrity and ethic frameworks. Both PACE and the INGOs Conference have taken steps to address GRECO’s recommendations.
These rather unique GRECO evaluations are amongst the first of their kind at international level and signal the intention of the Council of Europe to continue leading by example in the anti-corruption area, the report reads.
In a report on Romania published in April, the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe expressed serious concern about certain aspects of the laws on the status of judges and prosecutors in Romania, on the judicial organisation and on the Superior Council of Magistracy recently adopted by Parliament as well as on draft amendments to the criminal legislation.