The European Commission has published the first EU Anti-Corruption Report on the 3rd of February, following adoption by the College of Commissioners. The report is an in-depth assessment of all 28 member states’ strengths and weaknesses in curbing corruption. The Report has been produced by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs and builds on assessments conducted by the Commission over a two-year period, as well as independent assessments by Transparency International.
In June 2011, European Commissioner Malmström has launched a package introducing the future anti-corruption policy of the Union including the bi-annual EU-wide Anti-Corruption Report. The Report aims to give an overview of the fight against corruption across the Union. As well as country-specific analyses and recommendations, it aims to identify best and worst practices and cross-cutting corruption trends in Europe. The next EU Anti-Corruption Report is planned for 2015, which will allow the Commission to track progress.
The EU Anti-Corruption Report comes at a time when the European Commission has started discussions on future EU policy initiatives in the area of the EU’s internal security strategy. The Report has the potential to prepare the ground for future EU policy initiatives in the area of anti-corruption.
The eight pages on Cyprus touch issues that the Cypriot Government ought to address. “They are issues that the citizens and politicians have been made aware in the last three years from Transparency International –Cyprus through our actions and publications. However, we do not see the political will for change ” said the Vice- Chair of the Board of Transparency International –Cyprus, Mr Nicolas Nicolaides.
Issues addressed in the Report Relating to Cyprus
The report welcomes the 2003 decision of the Cypriot government to establish the Coordinating Body Against Corruption as well as the (a) harmonisation provisions on corruption across the criminal code and the more recent laws ratifying the OECD Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, (b) enforcement of a Code of Ethics for Public Officials published in June 2013, (c) will of the presidential candidates in the previous presidential elections to disclose their assets and the elected President’s wish to ask his Ministerial Council to sign a Code of Conduct, (d) enactment of the Political Parties Funding Act 2012 and ( e) Code of Conduct prepared by Treasury for procurement regulating conflicts of interest. Finally, the report makes a reference to the suggestion made by Transparency International –Cyprus that there ought to be an Independent Commission Against Corruption with its own budget, to focus solely on preventing, detecting and investigating corruption.
The report also identifies the following weaknesses and gaps in the system: (a) there is no general legislation on access to information, (b) there is no Whistle-blower’s Protection legislation, (c) no ‘ revolving door’ legislation where elected or high ranking officers are employed in the private sector without a ‘cooling off’ period, (d) the Political Party Funding Legislation covers parties not individual candidates; it does not contain separate provisions for the monitoring of finances related to election campaigns or of individual donations above a certain threshold, timely and comprehensive publication of party accounts is not envisaged; there is no obligation to disclose the identity of donors or the amount of donations received from identified individuals and companies and an independent supervisory mechanism in respect of election candidate’s income and expenditure is not implemented; (e ) the Coordinating Body Against Corruption has not developed an anti-corruption strategy (f) there is a close relationship between the business and political environment and (g) there is no specific mechanism in place within contracting authorities to help detect potentially corrupt practices in different stages of the procurement process.
Despite the fact that the authorities had demonstrated commitment to prevent and address corruption by amending legislation and establishing the Coordinating Body Against Corruption, the small number of cases investigated, prosecuted or adjudicated indicates the need to strengthen the enforcement system and implement transparency. Thus a number of recommendations are made: (a) the strengthening of the disciplinary regime for public servants and streamlining procedures to ensure effective investigation of corruption within the police, (b)the effective coordination of an anti-corruption policies by providing an institution with the necessary powers, (c) introducing codes of conduct for elected and appointed officials for them to declare assets periodically and to disclose potential conflicts of interest, (d) lowering the threshold for donations to political parties, limiting the ability of state-owned companies to sponsor political events, regulating donations to election candidates and campaigns, obliging parties to publish their financial statements and accounts online (including the identity of donors), and establishing external supervision of election candidates income and expenditure and (e ) developing uniform and effective tools to prevent and detect corruption in public procurement at national and local level, including internal and external control mechanisms and risk management tools within contracting authorities.
Report on Cyprus (PDF -en)