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Friday, September 2, 2011

MEPs require a strong political will against corruption

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News MEPs noticed the lack of legislation and political will is slowing down the efforts concerning the E.U struggle against corruption.

Despite anti-corruption legislation, an estimated €120 billion, or 1% of EU GDP, is lost to corruption in the EU each year and 80% of citizens consider corruption to be a major problem in their country. So what is going wrong - is it a lack of proper enforcement or is the problem a lack of political will in the member states? MEPs Wednesday discussed the issue when they looked at the European Commission's fighting corruption package. Sophisticated EU-level anti-corruption law is in place, but implementation and enforcement among EU countries is uneven and remains unsatisfactory, reflecting a "lack of political commitment on the part of leaders and decision makers to combat corruption in all forms", according to a Commission statement. EU Anti-Corruption Report It will therefore set up the EU Anti-Corruption Report to monitor and assess member state efforts to fight corruption and to encourage more political engagement. It should help countries better enforce legislation and underline failures and vulnerabilities, a Commission representative told the Civil Liberties Committee. "What we need most is not necessarily new legislation or institutions, but stronger enforcement of what is already in place." MEPs agreed, calling for a clear statement of political will from ministers. Belgian Liberal Louis Michel said that the Parliament has to push Council to take a position, one way or another, while British Conservative Timothy Kirkhope said political will is vital "to finally tackle this problem". Level playing field, speedier action - MEPs The Commission will issue the report every two years, the first in 2013 and says it won't mean an additional burden for member states or duplication. MEPs welcomed the report but called for earlier publication, or interim reports focusing on the biggest problems. A number of members said the fight against corruption should start in parliament to show citizens the EP is tough on corruption in politics. Among other issues raised were the need for better protection for whistleblowers, faster investigations and the need to smooth out differences across the EU in how bribery by multinationals of state officials in third countries is treated. What's next? The discussion will continue in the next plenary session when three questions on the subject will be put to the Commission and Council on 14 September, including, how the EU can ensure the necessary political commitment in each member state to combat corruption. The Commission will also come up with a series of other measures, including participation in the Council of Europe's group of states against corruption and proposals for new rules on confiscating criminal assets, improving criminal financial investigations, stepping up police and judicial cooperation, better training for law enforcement officers and a stronger focus on anti-corruption in the EU's enlargement process and development policy.

Source :  Presse room - European Parliament


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