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ITCO ANTI-CORRUPTION RECEPTION STRASBOURG
December 14, 2016 @ 18:00 - 20:00
Appeal to the European Commission to open up on Anti-Corruption Policies
On 14 December, Dennis de Jong MEP, ITCO Intergroup co-Chair hosted the annual reception of the ITCO intergroup in Strasbourg, which this time was entirely devoted to the co-operation between the EU and international anti-corruption mechanisms, notably GRECO (Council of Europe) and the review mechanism under the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
De Jong emphasised that it was most disappointing to note that despite several calls from ITCO, the Commission had not been able to submit its second anti-corruption report to the Parliament, even though this had been promised for early 2016. He also condemned the fact that so far the Commission had refused to participate in the Implementation Review Mechanism under UNCAC and did not seem to engage in any substantial preparatory work for the EU becoming a party to GRECO. The current Appeal, which is supported by all Bureau Members of the Intergroup as well as by UNODC, should be taken seriously by the Commission and deserved a speedy and substantive follow-up.
Candice Welsh,UNODC Chief of the Implementation Support Section, Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, representing Dimitri Vlassis- Head of the UNODC anti-corruption programme called for the EU to participate in the International Review Mechanism (IRM) and for greater prioritisation of anti-corruption, both in the EU and in its development assistance. UNODC reiterated that recent documents on the European Union´s action for sustainability, as well as the European consensus on development, do not appear to fully reflect the importance that needs to be paid to preventing and combatting corruption.
Gianluca Esposito, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe and its Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) welcomed the ITCO and UNODC appeal and remained ready to discuss them with the Commission’s colleagues. GRECO further urged for a more unified approach across the EU so that together we restore faith in political institutions and elected officials both at a national and European level. GRECO also remained ready to discuss at any time the modalities of the EU’s participation in GRECO and to think “outside the box” for creative solutions, it being understood that the EU’s full engagement both as an actor and as a subject in our evaluation and compliance procedures is a must.
Irina Stefuriuc, Anti-corruption Team Leader at the European Commission (EC) took note of the points raised in the appeal and thanked the MEPs, UNODC and GRECO for this initiative. The EC further recalled that GRECO accession is still blocked by a disagreement over the correct legal basis. In relation to the UNCAC, the EC is currently assessing the extent of the modifications of the Union’s competence with regards to all the matters governed by the UNCAC after entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, as well as legal and institutional implications of this modification of competences. The EC is also clarifying the exact legal and institutional questions relating to the review mechanism. On the release of the next report, the EC will report to the EP on the steps to be taken before the end of the year, as stated by VP Timmermans in LIBE in October.
ITCO Co-Chair Elly Schlein and Bureau Members Benedek Javor (MEP), Ana Gomes (MEP) and Tomas Zdechovsky (MEP) attended and supported this appeal. Ana Gomes MEP, who has been very active on the issue both in her personal political work and as a member of the Intergroup,addressed the participants and gave an impressive statement urging the Commission to take action.