De Jong demands supplementary report from European Commission on corruption in EU institutions

4 February 2014

De Jong demands supplementary report from European Commission on corruption in EU institutions

The European Commission yesterday presented its first report on corruption within the EU. The report, however, is incomplete and has appeared eight months after it was due. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: ‘In 2011, together with a group of like-minded MEPs, I gave an action plan against corruption to Commissioner Malmström. Almost three years later the only result is a report that contains little new information on the situation in the member states and absolutely no information on corruption within the European institutions themselves. There needs now to be a supplementary report on this, or we’ll have missed our chance.’

Dennis de JongThe report lays emphasis on corruption in tendering processes and corruption amongst politicians and political parties. `The Commission says that petty corruption, such as the payment of bribes by members of the public for public services, isn’t such a big problem in the member states,’ says De Jong, ‘but that it’s different when it comes to large-scale corruption, where taxpayers’ money is spent irregularly, for example by favouring “friendly” firms in public procurement contracts. If you look at the national reports, however, it turns out that petty corruption is most certainly a major problem in southern and eastern Europe. In this respect the Commission needs to redo its homework, because the payment of bribes for public services such as health care and education hits many people in Europe in this time of crisis harder than usual.´

The main problem, however, remains that the report includes numerous recommendations for the member states, yet these recommendations are not being carried out by the European Commission itself, or only partly. So organisations such as Transparency International (TI) and ALTER-EU have many criticisms regarding conflicts of interest within the Commission and its Agencies, as well as of the ´revolving doors´ through which European Commissioners and their staff pass when they leave to accept jobs at firms involved in matters concerning policy areas for which they have been responsible. 'For years I’ve been trying, along with other MEPs who feel the same, to convince the Commission of the need to strengthen integrity policy’, says De Jong. ‘When Commissioner John Dalli quit his post early as a result of suspected corruption, we in the EP were still active in trying to assess the influence of the tobacco lobby within the Commission. The Commission is scarcely transparent in this. It isn’t very convincing when the Commission points the finger at the member states, but wants to keep its own head down.’

With TI’s support De Jong is demanding a plenary debate in the European Parliament. ‘It is precisely the corruption in southern and eastern European countries which is causing a persistent difference in economic development and thus instability in the Eurozone,’ he argues. ‘So the report should show how the Troika’s anti-corruption taskforce In Greece hasn’t as yet achieved very much at all. We need certainly to debate this. At the same time such a debate would give us the chance to put a motion to ask the Commission to come up with a supplementary report on the European institutions themselves as well as on petty corruption.’

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