SP: EU shouldn’t let up on the fight against corruption

3 December 2014

SP: EU shouldn’t let up on the fight against corruption

According to those responding to the survey by Transparency International (TI) published today, ‘Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2014’, corruption has somewhat declined within the EU. Commenting on the findings, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong says that while ‘in itself this is good news’, nevertheless ‘the scores for countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Italy remain well below an acceptable level. Moreover, TI points out and with good reason that countries with good results can at the same time be giving wide leeway to multinationals to employ bribery elsewhere.’ De Jong will shortly be producing a new version of the action plan against corruption that he drew up with a group of like-minded MEPs in 2011, a plan which inspired the last European Commission to publish its own report on corruption.

On this occasion TI paid a great deal of attention to the way in which countries with a good CPI score are at the same time closing their eyes to the corrupt practices in other countries of multinationals registered in their own.
‘There still isn’t enough priority being paid to the prosecution of multinationals, and in addition to that there’s too much secrecy within these corporations’ says De Jong. ‘Member states refuse to approve a proposal to have companies declare how much tax they pay per country, which would make it clear how much governments in reality receive. Member states also are still reluctant to accept the proposal to give everyone, in the framework of the struggle against money-laundering, access to information on the actual structure of ownership within corporations. Hopefully TI’s findings will help to give this impetus.’

The CPI does not measure perception of corruption within the European institutions themselves. ‘This remains a black hole,’ says De Jong. ‘The Commission’s own 2013 anti-corruption report had the same omission, looking at everyone except these bodies. Yet there’s still plenty amiss. It’s still not clear whether an obligatory transparency register will be established, as was announced recently by the new Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. There’s still a lot of problems regarding the composition and working methods of some nine hundred expert groups whose task is to advise the Commission, bodies for which the European Parliament has decided to freeze 15% of the budget for next year. Lastly there are concerns over the enforcement of the Code of Conduct for European Commissioners, who are not monitored by any independent body. In all these areas the Dutch Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová must now take action. They should then shortly bring out a supplementary report on the fight against corruption within the institutions themselves. The Commission is duty-bound to do so under the United Nations Treaty against Corruption, but has so far ignored all of the UN’s calls to comply.’

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