On 17 November, the President of the High Authority participated in the Global Forum on Trust and Democracy in Luxembourg, organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Didier Migaud spoke at the panel on strengthening integrity and combating undue influence in democracies.
Moderated by Julio Bacio Terracino, Head of the OECD’s Public Sector Integrity Division, the panel included integrity experts, ministers, ambassadors and NGO representatives.
Didier Migaud underlined that, in a context of trust crisis, integrity, exemplarity and transparency were strong demands from citizens. He explained the collegial functioning of the High Authority, which guarantees its independence and allows it to rely on personalities with diverse perspectives.
The President of the High Authority also explained the missions of the High Authority, which controls the declarations of assets of public officials, in order to detect any illicit enrichment, and their declarations of interest, to prevent potential conflicts of interest. He stressed the need for sanctions if public official breach the integrity requirements, and the importance of publishing the declarations, as the public and media scrutiny is essential.
Didier Migaud also raised the issue of undue influence on public decision making, explaining the mission of lobbying control entrusted to the High Authority, which manages the digital directory of interest representatives and formulates proposals to improve the existing system. In this regard, the President stated that he wished to work with the OECD on a better understanding of the influence of foreign countries.
He insisted on the importance of controlling revolving doors between the public and private sectors operated by the High Authority, in particular to guarantee the independent and impartial functioning of the administration.
Julio Bacio Terracino recommended that other OECD countries learn from the High Authority’s controls on revolving doors.
The Chair of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira Rubio, also stressed the need for these controls and the prevention of conflicts of interest, in order to strengthen citizens’ trust in their representatives. She drew a direct link between integrity and the quality of public policies, which must serve the general interest and not private interests.
Jack Markell, US Ambassador to the OECD, talked about the risks of a foreign power hiding its true intentions in order to influence and corrupt a country’s political system. He recalled the role of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in providing transparency on the influence of foreign states in the United States.
Minister of the Presidency of Costa Rica, Natalia Diaz, stressed the impact of the fight against corruption on the country’s economic development, while Hannah Cameron, Deputy Commissioner of the Public Service Commission of New Zealand, explained that the good level of trust in her country stemmed from the commitment of public officials to transparency.
Finally, Kristen Sample, Director of the National Institute for Democracy, insisted on the importance of involving political parties in integrity issues, especially in relation to financing. Gloria de la Fuente Gonzalez, member of Chile’s National Transparency Council, also presented the work of the OECD’s Senior Public Integrity Officials (SPIO), of which the High Authority is a member, which provides guidance on public integrity and the regulation of lobbying.