The Commission regularly organises anti-corruption experience-sharing workshops across the EU and funds various projects in relation to the fight against corruption.
Funding anti-corruption projects
The Commission also supports projects aimed at improving integrity and addressing corruption in EU countries, amongst others. Currently ongoing anti-corruption projects, funded under the Internal Security Fund Police (ISFP) 2014-2020 include:
Project C.O.R.E aims at developing and validating a replicable procedure for computing corruption risk in public procurement in the time of pandemic, based on a collection and cross-processing of public procurement data. The procedure is intended at enhancing earlier detection of corruption risk and fostering a stronger evidence base for policy reform, by serving primarily anti-corruption authorities and law enforcement agencies, but also journalists and the general public for accountability objectives.
Project Speak Up Europe aims to prevent corruption in high-risk areas by empowering European citizens to speak up about misconduct to public, private and civil society organisations that can take action. To achieve this, the action will provide European citizens with safe corruption reporting channels and technical, legal and advocacy assistance.
Integrity Watch is an online tool to access political integrity data across Europe. In this third phase of the project, the coverage will be increased from 8 to 16 EU Member States. The aim of the project is to improve the capacity of law enforcement, civil society and media to detect corruption risks and stimulate cross-border cooperation between relevant stakeholders.
A follow-up to the initial DATACROS project, this project aims to enhance the Datacros prototype tool to detect anomalies in firms’ ownership structure for anti-money laundering, anti-corruption and financial crime prevention. The tool will be tested in operational scenarios by a wide range of end-users: Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), Asset Recovery Offices (AROs), Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), Anti-corruption authorities (ACAs), Competition Authorities (CAs), and investigative journalists.
The Internal Security Fund (ISF) 2021-2027 funds projects to fight corruption. The first Work Programme of ISF includes a dedicated call for proposals on projects covering a wide variety of key policy priorities including preventing corruption in risks sectors, assessing the impact of implemented anti-corruption measures. Enhancing cross-links with organised crime infiltration in the public system, enhancing the effectiveness of corruption prosecution and implementing best practices across the EU. Publication of the call is expected in the first half of 2022.
The Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) coordinates and provides tailor-made technical support to EU Member States, in cooperation with the relevant Commission services. The support is primarily provided through the Technical Support Instrument (TSI). The goal is to support Member States’ efforts to design and implement resilience-enhancing reforms, thereby contributing to the EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, improving the quality of public services and getting back on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.
The Commission’s Quality Administration Toolbox provides a reference and resource by pointing readers to existing EU policies and international practices in the field of public administration and governance
Furthermore, the Commission publishes calls on research and activities related to the fight against corruption. These calls are also open to private entities and NGOs.
Experience Sharing Workshops
The Commission organises regularly anti-corruption experience-sharing workshops across the EU for the anti-corruption authorities of the Member States.
Experience-Sharing Workshop in the fight against corruption on lobbying in Europe
Brussels, 14 September 2022
On 14 September 2022, the 14th Experience-sharing Workshop in the Fight against Corruption took place in Brussels. The workshops was the first physical workshop since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing together representatives from:
- 19 EU countries
- Commission services
- the European Ombudsman
- civil society
- and experts of the network of Local Research Correspondents on Corruption (LRCC)
Participants discussed topics surrounding lobbying corresponding to the workshop’s title: “Lobbying in Europe: balancing public interest and privileged access”.
Lobbying is a legitimate and lawful act to influence public officials. However, it needs to be accompanied by strong requirements of transparency and integrity to ensure accountability and inclusiveness in decision-making. Several EU countries have regulated lobbying, like introducing a mandatory transparency register of lobbyists, while others have no regulation in place.
Lobbying is one of the topics covered by the Rule of Law Report’s chapter on anti-corruption. In the 2022 Rule of Law Report, the European Commission has provided Member States for the first time with recommendations. For 15 EU countries, there has been a recommendation to better regulate lobbying.
The workshop was opened by Ute Stiegel, Acting Head of Unit: Enforcement, Transparency and Rule of Law Monitoring at DG HOME. Representatives of EU countries discussed the lobbying regulatory systems in France and Lithuania. Both systems were presented in detail explaining the transparency registers, legislative footprint, the registration obligation and enforcement, and sanctions. Participants also discussed the particularities and challenges of drafting and implementing legislation on lobbying in their EU country.
Discussions between EU countries with civil society, public affairs and business organisations focused on transparency in lobbying. Panelists included:
- Mr. Sven CLEMENT, member of Parliament in Luxembourg
- Mr. Christian FEUSTEL, senior policy advisor for BusinessEurope
- Mr. Stefaan FIERS, the president of BEPact
- Mr. Olivier HOEDEMAN, research and campaign coordinator at Corporate Europe Observatory
Discussions focused on the degree of transparency needed in interactions with lobbyists; the definition of who is a lobbyist; if there can be “too much” transparency and the role of unethical lobbying. Participants illustrated their points with concrete examples concerning the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The workshop also discussed three fictional cases on lobbying and lobbying regulation in smaller break-out groups, to more concretely apply lobbying legislation and regulation in practice. The case studies covered issues such as influence through attendance of public officials at a company-sponsored event; influencing public decisions in private environments between friends and the registration of informal meetings in a transparency register.
A key takeaway from the workshop is that there exists no single solution that would fit all with regards to lobbying regulation. Rules need to be adapted depending on the situation in each country. It is important to raise awareness about lobbying among public officials and citizens. Lobbying remains a legitimate act, but integrity and accountability need to be ensured, and all associations and stakeholders should have a level-playing field. The European Commission will continue to advocate this topic, in particular in the context of the Rule of Law Report and the follow-up of various recommendations addressed to EU countries.
Experience-Sharing Workshop: Ensuring anti-corruption resilience in times of crisis
Online, 13 December 2021
This 14th Experience-Sharing Workshop brought together representatives of EU Member States, the European Commission, Europol and academia to discuss the theme of anti-corruption resilience in times of crisis.
Over the course of the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how crises can have a profound impact on several areas, including in the fight against corruption. The pandemic has exacerbated corruption risks in several sectors, both across the EU and within Member States, showing the importance of ensuring the resilience of public sector institutions, and highlighting the need for strengthening cross-border cooperation and overall synergies in the implementation of response measures.
In this Experience Sharing Workshop, participants assisted to presentations from representatives of Europol and academia, who provided, respectively, an update of Europol’s latest developments in the field of anti-corruption; and an overview of different ways of ensuring resilience to corruption in times of crisis, including through Member State-specific examples. Each presentation lasted around thirty minutes and included a Question & Answer (Q&A) session to facilitate the debate and the sharing of experiences. The workshop concluded with an interactive roundtable aimed at collecting participants’ insights on their perception of sectors that are most vulnerable to corruption and of the most relevant measures for ensuring resilience to these risks.
This Experience Sharing Workshop was organised online due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All discussions were held under Chatham House rule.
Floriana Sipala, Head of Unit, Organised Crime, Drugs and Corruption, DG HOME, opened the workshop with a brief reflection of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on efforts to prevent and fight corruption, both at EU level as well as within individual EU Member States.
She explained how the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the risk of corruption and further increased the phenomenon of infiltration of organised crime in the legal economy, highlighting how 60% of organised crime groups rely on corruption to do so, as indicated in the Europol’s threat assessment (SOCTA 2021).
Stressing that this remains a priority concern at EU level, she presented ongoing work within the EU institutions to collect information on this issue as well as to devise measures to fight the phenomenon. This includes ongoing discussions on how to prevent and tackle infiltration of corruption and organised crime in the Next Generation EU fund, as well as research being conducted on this matter on behalf of the European Parliament. Ms. Sipala further highlighted how the Commission will continue monitoring the situation in the area of anti-corruption in all EU Member States in 2022, and that these efforts will be stepped up by incorporating relevant recommendations in the Rule of Law country chapters. The recently set-up European Public Prosecutors’ Office (EPPO) and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will continue to play a relevant role. The Commission will also continue to implement its newest Strategy to tackle Organised Crime (2021 – 2025), and as part of these efforts will launch a study to assess the EU acquis on anti-corruption and the steps that can be taken to further advance this. Further attention will continue to be paid to key issues such as highly complex corruption cases, as well as the existence and application of criminal sanctions and investigations for corruption across the EU.
Ms. Sipala concluded by thanking all EU Member States’ authorities for their cooperation on these matters and by mentioning that the Commission, while remaining mindful of the competences and mandates of all actors involved, is committed to providing its support to Member States with a view to enhancing criminal investigations and analyses in the area of anti-corruption and organised crime.
Europol update on anti-corruption activities
Mr Frédéric Pierson, Senior specialist, Team leader expertise at Europol, opened the workshop with an update on the work which Europol undertakes in uncovering and exposing corruption, and the recent developments in its organisational structure which enable the organisation to do so.
He began by explaining how Europol has been stepping up its efforts to better identify and fight corruption with the establishment in June 2020 of the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC). The EFECC is structured around four components: financial crime; counterfeiting; economic crime; and expertise policy and stakeholders. The financial crime unit focuses on the areas of money laundering, asset recovery and corruption, with the aim of strengthening the level of support provided to Member States in these areas. According to Mr Pierson, the creation of the centre has enhanced Europol’s ability to support Member States’ analysis and international cooperation in anti-corruption, money laundering and asset recovery cases. Mr Pierson stressed that corruption remains a high priority threat for Europol.
Diving deeper into the role of Europol in supporting investigations, he described the results of some recent cases on the use of encrypted systems as enablers of organised crime activities. These investigations provided insights on how widespread corruption is across EU Member States, both in the public and private sectors, across all levels. Mr Pierson further presented some of the practical tools Europol can offer Member States to strengthen their cooperation in this area. This includes the Carin Asset Recovery network, which he encouraged workshop participants to tap into in case where they might require support in tracing and freezing assets cross-border.
The presentation concluded with a brief Q&A session, where participants discussed more in depth the results of the investigations described and debated current and future challenges for the EU and its Member States in the interlinked fields of organised crime and corruption.
Ensuring resilient anti-corruption measures in times of crisis
The second presentation was delivered by Dr Mihaly Fazekas, Assistant Professor at the Central European University and Director of the Government Transparency Institute.
Dr Fazekas provided in its intervention a broader overview of the impact crises can have on corruption and anti-corruption developments, and the types of resilience measures which can be implemented, drawing on specific examples from the current COVID-19 crisis for illustrative purposes. He explained that crises can represent an opportunity for both increased corruption but also for strengthening the anti-corruption framework, stressing that institutional resilience will likely depend on existing checks and balances in institutional frameworks before the crisis hits, and that the key challenge is to foresee and steer the impact on the long term, understanding whether and how to revert to the pre-crisis equilibrium.
Following an explanation of the different types of approaches identified for countering corruption more broadly and the potential impacts of crises on corruption, Dr Fazekas delved more in depth on the possible safeguards which can allow institutions to be protected against corruption in times of crisis. This includes reliance on robust and fast e-government solutions (including e-procurement); ring-fencing emergency rules and spending; and strengthening ex-post controls. He then proceeded to provide some concrete examples drawn by ongoing studies on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Member States’ anti-corruption frameworks.
Dr Fazekas concluded his presentation by stressing the importance of increasing the likelihood of being resilient to a crisis by ensuring that the institutions are well prepared before the crisis hits. The presentation was followed by a brief Q&A session on the findings of the studies presented, including the transferability of results related to public sector resilience to the private sector.
Interactive roundtable and conclusive remarks
Before bringing the workshop to an end, Anitta Hipper, Team leader Fight Against Corruption, Organised Crime, Drugs and Corruption Unit at DG HOME, led an interactive round table discussion amongst participants.
Through the use of an online polling system, workshop attendees were asked to reflect and share their experiences on what they consider to be the most vulnerable areas and sectors for corruption in times of crisis; and what they believe to be particularly effective responses to increase resilience in the fight against corruption. The responses collected reflected the general themes that had emerged during the workshop and the related discussions. Participants considered public procurement, health care and local government, inter alia, to be amongst the most vulnerable sectors; and transparency, open data, education, training and cross-border cooperation amongst the most valuable responses for increasing resilience.
Ms. Hipper concluded the workshop by emphasising the key role which these workshops can play in assisting EU Member States by providing a forum to exchange experiences and relevant developments in the area of anti-corruption. She encouraged participants to provide suggestions for possible topics for future meetings.
Experience-Sharing Workshop: Preventing corruption in State-Owned Enterprises
Berlin, 7 May 2019
The 11th Experience Sharing Workshop organised by the European Commission (Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs – DG HOME) brought together representatives from national ministries, senior prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Member States, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, as well as experts from the Commission, and addressed the issue of preventing corruption in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
SOEs account for a very large share of employment and economic output in EU Member States, and are active in sectors which provide key public services such as energy, transport, and health. SOEs often operate with an extensive scope of public ownership and combine commercial with public policy objectives. Good governance, transparency and integrity are key principles for both positive economic performance of SOEs and allowing for an assessment of their effectiveness in serving the public interest.
The first EU Anti-Corruption Report in 2014 highlighted a number of issues in the management of SOEs. This included shortcomings in oversight; politicisation as an obstacle to merit-based appointment; insufficient safeguards to prevent conflict of interests; shortcomings in the transparency of allocation of funds and purchases, and party financing rules related issues.
Through presentations delivered by experts in the field of anti-corruption, the 11th Experience Sharing Workshop sought to discuss the corruption-related challenges faced by SOEs and possible ways to address them. The workshop facilitated participants to share relevant national experiences and best practices.
Irina Stefuriuc, Head of Sector Fight against Corruption at DG HOME, opened the workshop with a brief overview of the efforts undertaken at the EU level in support of the fight against corruption in recent years. These include: updated anti-money laundering rules; reinforced rules for the protection of EU financial interest; the establishment of European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO); the European Semester initiative and the substantial financial support provided to Member States which seek to boost their anti-corruption measures. Moving to the main topic of the workshop, she then highlighted the key elements which make SOEs important actors in domestic and international markets and those that make them particularly vulnerable to corruption.
Session 1: Guidelines on anti-corruption and integrity in State-Owned Enterprises
In the first session of the morning, Alison McMeekin, Policy Analyst, Corporate Governance and Corporate Finance Division at the OECD’s Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, provided participants with a comprehensive overview of the current role of SOEs in the market place, the corruption risks they face, and the measures which can be taken to improve their integrity.
Supported by data collected through recent OECD surveys, she showed how SOEs have been growing exponentially over the past five years, with a large geographical shift to emerging economies. She demonstrated how all levels of corporate hierarchy can be involved in corruption, how risks differ according to the objectives of the SOE and its sector - with some sectors being overall more vulnerable - and listed a series of potential obstacles to the integrity of a SOE. In comparing SOEs to private firms, Alison showed how SOEs seem to be less responsive in terms of actions taken in response to corruption risks, and advanced hypotheses as to why.
Lastly, she concluded by presenting the OECD’s most recent efforts in promoting transparency and accountability in SOEs, the 2019 “Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises”.
Session 2: Conflicts of interest and clientelism in State-Owned Enterprises: statecapture.eu: findings from Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Italy
In the second session of the morning, Sorin Ioniţă, Expert in Public Administration Reform and Development, Expert Forum (Romania), presented the findings of statecapture.eu, a project aimed at finding objective indicators to measure clientelism in SOEs and its effects, and which used Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Italy as case studies.
In tracing the steps of the research process, he explained how sample SOEs had been selected and how indicators had been built, arguing for the importance of distinguishing between SOEs with commercial objectives and those providing services of general economic interest in order to better identify cases of clientelism. Addressing both the merits and the limits of the study, he pointed in particular to the challenge posed by the lack of available data and by having major differences in SOEs across sectors when trying to establish objective indicators.
After presenting as a specific example the results of a few sectorial in-depth analyses conducted for a case-study country, Mr Ioniţă concluded by highlighting the need for increased data transparency, stating that while bad governance and performance do not necessarily imply the existence of corruption, acting on governance and performance does limit it.
Session 3: Preventing corruption and state capture in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) – political party affiliations in SOEs
Sergejus Muravjovas, from the School of Transparency (Lithuania), ended the morning session with an interactive presentation on the issue of politicisation of SOEs, the ways to measure it, the risks and ways to address these.
Stressing the importance of including not only SOEs but also Municipally Owned Enterprises (MOEs) in analyses on corruption, he introduced participants to a study conducted in Lithuania which looked at the correlation between heading a SOE and/or a MOE and past participating in elections for political office. He argued that this participation could be a potential indicator of politicisation of the enterprise. Mr Muravjovas then listed a series of possible recommendations for increasing transparency in SOEs and MOEs, including ensuring that management boards do not feature politicians and public servants that deal directly with the issues related to the sector the company operates in, as well as publicly declaring meetings between board members and politicians or interest group representatives.
The recommendations presented by Mr Muravjovas allowed for an engaged discussion on the limitations of imposing transparency measures on SOEs operating in a (internationally) competitive business environment, as well as on the possibility of prioritising certain issues when designing and implementing anti-corruption prevention policies.
Session 4: Tools to address corruption in State Owned Enterprises
The last presentation of the day was delivered by Peter Wilkinson, the author of “State-Owned Enterprises: Beacons of Integrity? The Case for Implementing the 10 Anti-Corruption Principles for State-Owned Enterprises” (Transparency International).
After providing a brief overview of the role tools and codes play in setting standards, identifying and promulgating best practices and ensuring accountability, Mr Wilkinson presented the “Business Principles for Countering Bribery”, highlighting the strong impact this tool has had in influencing anti-bribery codes, national legislations and corporate behavior worldwide. Supported in his intervention by Katja Bechtel, former head of Business Integrity at Transparency International, he described the development of Transparency International’s “10 Anti-Corruption Principles For State-Owned Enterprises”. Highlighting the key strengths of the Principles, he explained that they represented a comprehensive and balanced approach that could help SOEs develop policies and procedures to counter corruption.
Mr Wilkinson concluded with the presentation of a self-assessment tool for SOEs on anti-corruption practices, which participants agreed could be a useful starting point for governments to engage in a discussion on the level of transparency and integrity of national SOEs.
Conclusions: Summary and reflections on the day’s discussions
Concluding the workshop, Philip Gounev, Director of PMG Analytics and former Deputy Minister of Interior of Bulgaria¸ briefly summarised the key points of the presentations delivered throughout the day, highlighting the complementarity of the themes addressed. Pointing to the complexity of the challenges faced by SOEs in countering corruption, he concluded that while there are no quick fixes available, it is fundamental to continue to try to address these challenges through targeted and comprehensive measures.
Experience-Sharing Workshop: The Role of Prosecution in the Fight against high-level Corruption
Paris, 25 June 2018
The 10th Experience Sharing Workshop, organised by the Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) of the European Commission brought together senior prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Member States, law professionals, civil society, private sector as well as investigative journalists and representatives of international organisations and bodies involved in the fight against corruption (Europol, GRECO) and Commission experts.
The 2014 EU Anti-corruption report showed that many Member States place a high burden on law enforcement and prosecution bodies or on anti-corruption agencies which are perceived to be solely responsible for addressing corruption in the country. Corruption cannot be tackled without a comprehensive approach aiming to also effectively enhance prevention and control mechanisms throughout the public administration, at central and local levels. However prosecution remains the critical element in fighting corruption. In the absence of effective and successful prosecutions, impunity will prevail. It is essential that prosecution services are independent, have adequate capacity and resources and benefit from the necessary support.
Acts of corruption involving high-level public officials generally have significant impact on society by distorting policies or the functioning of the state at the expense of the public good. When it occurs, and particularly when it goes unsanctioned, high level corruption undermines public trust and erodes the principles of democratic governments. On the other hand, successful prosecutions of high-level corruption cases have a huge galvanizing effect in pushing back against corruption.
In opening the workshop, Irina Stefuriuc, Head of Sector Fight against Corruption at DG HOME, presented EU initiatives supporting the fight against corruption in the Member States: analyses and recommendations in the context of the European Semester of economic governance, legislative initiatives relevant for the fight against corruption, and technical and financial support to Member States.
Access to information and the use and availability of evidence in high-level corruption cases
Daumantas Pocius, Head of the Second Department of the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania, opened the morning session with a presentation on Evidence Gathering in the Investigation of Corruption Cases. The presentation outlined the differences between proactive and reactive investigations, with particular emphasis on the methods available to an investigator in each scenario and the reliability of evidence gathered using different investigative techniques. Discussions centred around the statistical methodologies used for data driven surveillance in Lithuania, the use of special investigation techniques, the length of the pre-trial phase before disclosure of the investigation is required and the impact of local laws and regulations on the investigative methods that can be applied during the investigation.
In the second presentation of the session, Finnian McKeon, Director, Enterprise Registry Solutions (Ireland), provided a presentation and demonstration on the European Beneficial Ownership and Control Structures (EBOCS) visualisation tool. EBOCS enables access to unified business registry data on business ownership structure for financial analysis and investigation purposes. In the demonstration, Finnian used the EBOCS tool to identify and analyse the transnational companies linked to a particular individual. Discussions focused on the functionality of the tool, including the ability to identify persons of interest or political status, the use of the visualisations as evidence in court and the expected expansion of the EBOCS tools’ scope.
Inter-agency and international cooperation
Bruno Freitas, Police Inspector, Portuguese Judiciary Police, opened the second session with a presentation of the links between corruption, tax fraud and money laundering. The presentation emphasised the close links between corruption, tax fraud and money laundering, as well as the increasing necessity for criminals to identify a seemingly legal circuit to channel the income paid through. The speaker discussed the distinction between ‘legal’ and illegal forms of corruption, as well as the ambiguous territory between them as legal forms of corruption, e.g. unethical behaviour that undermines codes of conduct, can lead to illegal corruption. Participants emphasised that a breach of an organisations’ or institutions’ Code of Conduct, though in certain cases legal, is often the first step towards corruption.
The second presentation of the session was given by Elias Stephanou, Director of Elias A. Stephanou LLC (Cyprus). The speaker presented a case study of prosecution for high-level corruption within the magistracy, covering issues such as pre-trial preparation and the case hearing as well as media engagement. The participants discussed the influence of circumstantial evidence in corruption cases and the details of the case.
Romain de Beausse, Liaison Officer, French Liaison Bureau, Europol, closed the session with a presentation on the support provided by Europol to corruption investigations. The presentation covered the support Europol provides to address the issues faced by and needs of anti-corruption investigations across its member states. The speaker emphasised the benefits of data sharing and analysis support for prosecutor, as well as the array of analytical tools Europol can deploy to support prosecutors. Given the transnational character of high-level corruption, Europol’s databases are well placed to balance law enforcements requirements for transnational data with national confidentiality and security concerns. Participants shared their experiences of working with Europol and discussed the frequency and depth of Europol’s support during anti-corruption cases.
Results and case studies in the prosecution of high-level corruption cases
The third session was opened by Gianluca Esposito, Executive Secretary of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe, with a presentation on GRECO’s experience of corruption prevention in respect of prosecutors. The presentation outlined GRECO’s fourth evaluation round, focusing on the key recommendations on corruption prevention as regards prosecutors. A number of anonymised case studies were presented to illustrate good and bad practice. Following the presentation, the participants discussed the importance of supervision and enforcement of Codes of Conduct in public bodies as the first preventive defence against corruption.
Investigative journalist Nils Hanson, former Editor-in Chief of Mission Investigate (Sweden), presented on the methods used by investigative journalists to reveal corruption with reference to a high-level corruption case. The presentation tracked the evolution of Mission Investigate’s investigation via a network of offshore shell companies and the methods used to obtain information from sources. The presentation followed the trajectory of the investigation to illustrate the methods used by investigative journalists and closed with a discussion of conflicts and complementarities between investigative journalism and prosecution.
The fourth presentation of the session was by Jože Štrus, Policy Officer, Directorate-General Justice and Consumers, European Commission, on the 2018 EU Justice Scoreboard. The EU Justice Scoreboard provides indicators on the performance of the justice system of each member state in terms of independence, quality and efficiency. In 2018, new data was included regarding the functioning of national prosecution services, more specifically as regards management powers over the prosecution services and guidance or instructions from the executive or parliament on prosecution.
Irina Ştefuriuc, Head of Sector Fight Against Corruption, Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, gave the final presentation of the session on the Commission’s collection of official data on corruption offences, covering 2011-2013. The presentation outlined the challenges faced in terms of data availability and comparability across Member States. A new data collection covering 2014-2016 is currently ongoing. Discussions focused on interpretation of data and cross-country comparability challenges.
Resilience to external pressure and other challenges
Laura Stefan, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Coordinator, Expert Forum (Romania), opened the session with a presentation on ‘Resilience to Outside Pressure’. The presentation considered the benefits and vulnerabilities of judicial independence, the mechanisms for judicial accountability and the distinction between due and undue pressure on the judiciary. Due pressure is stemming from media interest in high-profile cases; public debates; political decisions in relation to justice reform; and, external evaluations. Undue pressure may be deriving from political statements that may undermine judicial independence; public pressure demanding specific solutions in highly publicised cases; interference in cases (e.g. telephone call to prosecutor or judge); tardive notifications sent to investigators; and, administrative chicanes to limit the inefficiency of the justice system. A central theme of the presentation was that due pressure may enhance the accountability of the judiciary, while undue pressure may undermine the justice system.
Lavly Perling, Prosecutor General of Estonia, gave the final presentation of the day on ‘The influence of the external environment and media pressure of the prosecution of high-level corruption cases’. After a brief summary of Estonian anti-corruption efforts, the speaker outlined the principles and strategy of the Estonian public prosecution office in its public relations. The priorities are to speak the truth without disclosing evidence, protect fair trials, and protect all parties involved with criminal proceedings. It is important for prosecution services to maintain some form of dialogue with both the public and the private sector about the impact of corruption in terms of economics, security and trust. Discussions centred on the different media approaches to media management employed by prosecutor’s offices in the EU and the experiences of participants in dealing with the media.
Olivier Onidi, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, concluded the session with closing remarks on the importance of prosecution in the fight against corruption. Echoing the views of participants, he emphasised that prosecuting high-level corruption requires the involvement and cooperation of many authorities, often under high pressure from the public and the media. The Commission, in cooperation with Members States, GRECO, Eurojust and Europol, is looking to strengthen the legislative support required for prosecutors to work effectively.