De Jong demands openness over EU institutions’ anti-corruption policies

12 February 2014

De Jong demands openness over EU institutions’ anti-corruption policies

The European Parliament today hosts a hearing with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström on the Anti-Corruption report published by the Commission last week. ‘The report gives an insight into the situation in the member states,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, ‘but the sections going into corruption within the European institutions are incomplete. In recent years I have seen many instances of corruption within the Commission and its agencies, as well as the European Parliament itself. So it’s arrogant of the Commission to think they can get away with a report which deals with everyone except themselves. A lot of the measures the Commission recommend to the member states they haven’t themselves implemented in house. That undermines their entire credibility. As far as I’m concerned Malmström will have a great deal to explain during the hearing.’

As far as the information regarding the member states is concerned, the report is based on existing data from, for example, the UN, the Council of Europe and organisations such as Transparency International. ‘The report’s added value is above all that it gives a relatively good picture of the differences between northern Europe on the one hand and eastern and southern Europe on the other,’ says De Jong. ‘In Italy, for instance, 21% of economic activity takes place in the informal sector. In Greece it’s almost a quarter. The report shows that despite all of the efforts of the Task Force against Corruption installed by the Troika in Greece, the situation in that country has scarcely improved. Greeks say that you simply cannot access public services unless you pay bribes. So the Commission is confirming here what the SP has also established, that corruption in many of the weaker countries of the Eurozone is endemic and puts a permanent brake on economic growth. In the end this means that an unravelling of the Eurozone is inevitable, unless northern Europe is prepared to constantly transfer money to these corrupt economies. And unless we accept that it is ordinary people in southern Europe who will be the victims of the imposed austerity policies added to the rampant corruption there. For the SP these are the only plausible options. So it’s also true that alternatives to the existing Eurozone must be formulated without delay.’

In the European Parliament for the last four years there has been a body of MEPs from all of the major political groups which has been active in relation to combatting corruption, a body which was established on the initiative of the SP. ‘With this group in 2011 we presented a ten-point plan of concrete measures against corruption. At that time Malmström saw this as a good design for her own report, yet she’s adopted few of our action points and presented her report too late for the EP to do much about it. I shall, however, with my fellow members of the action group be using a motion, or perhaps a joint letter to the Commissioner, to demand a better follow-up. What’s needed in any case is a supplementary report on combatting corruption in the European institutions, and an answer to the question as to how the Commission thinks that weak Eurozone countries with a big informal economy can ever compete with the stronger Eurozone countries.’

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