The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body (GRECO) warned on Tuesday that public perceptions of low levels of corruption in certain countries may lead to underestimating the need for measures to combat corrupt practices. GRECO also expressed concern about the overall slow progress in implementing its recommendations and called on states to address them without delay.
In its annual report, GRECO reviews action taken by its 49 member states against corruption in 2018, notably in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors, as well as its most recent evaluation round focusing on preventing corruption in central governments and law enforcement agencies.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: “Corruption has devastating consequences for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Overall our member states have made progress to put in place measures to prevent and combat corruption, but much more needs to be done. GRECO´s recommendations are not optional. Governments, parliamentarians and other national authorities should show their commitment to fighting corruption by fully implementing GRECO´s recommendations”.
GRECO’s President, Marin Mrčela, said: “No country is immune to corruption. All countries, irrespective of their position in perception indexes, are required to take concrete measures to prevent and counter corruption. Relying on perceptions and underestimating the strength of preventive measures leaves the door open to behaviours which may very quickly turn into corruption”.
Nearly all GRECO member states have been evaluated under the 4th evaluation round, which focuses on preventing corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. Overall, the implementation of GRECO recommendations slowed down in 2018: only 34% of recommendations had been fully implemented by the end of year. The lowest level of compliance concerned recommendations in respect of parliamentarians (23%), whilst it was higher for those concerning judges (36%) and prosecutors (45%).
As a result of the slow implementation of recommendations, by the end of 2018 fourteen members states were subject to GRECO´s non-compliance procedure concerning the 4th round evaluation. Another two countries were subject to this procedure with regard to other evaluation rounds.
With regard to its 5th evaluation round, which monitors the prevention of corruption in central governments and law enforcement, GRECO has already identified a number of gaps in several countries. These include the need for codes of conduct for ministers and other top executive functions, lobbying, managing of conflicts of interest, asset declarations, immunities and “revolving doors”. GRECO´s recommendations concerning law enforcement have so far focused on codes of conduct, promotion and dismissal mechanisms, conflicts of interest, post-employment restrictions, mechanisms for oversight of police misconduct and the protection of whistleblowers.
During 2018, GRECO adopted seven evaluation reports, 29 compliance reports and three ad hoc assessments in the context of its new urgent evaluation procedure concerning developments which require rapid action – for example, to assess new legislation that may jeopardise anti-corruption efforts.
Romania – most non implemented GRECO recommendations for MPs
Romania is the country with most non implemented recommendations regarding the MPs (6), followed by Poland (5), Cyprus, Serbia and Turkey (4 each).
Romania is also in the group of countries that failed to comply with concerned GRECO recommendations in respect of parliamentarians, along with Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey.
The countries with most unimplemented recommendations or partially implemented are Turkey (33), Bosnia (23), Greece (19), Armenia (17), Belgium (17), Northern Macedonia (17), Serbia (17), Cyprus 914), Portugal (14) and Romania (12).