The High Authority for Transparency in Public Life publishes its 2021 activity report, the first full year of operation of the new board which took office on the 1st of February 2020.
While 2020 represented a record number of declarations received by the High Authority (17,113), 2021 proved to be almost as intense, with 15,574 declarations filed. In particular, the High Authority received declarations of assets and interests from departmental and regional elected representatives, but also, for the first time, declarations of interests from members of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE in French). In anticipation of the end of their respective terms of office, the President of the Republic and the deputies of the 15th legislature also filed their declarations of assets and interests at the end of their term of office in 2021.
The High Authority’s control activity increased significantly in 2021, as 2020 was particularly affected by the health context. 3,150 declarations were checked in depth this year and 11 cases, i.e. 0.3%, were referred to the courts. In addition, 55 cases were referred for failure to file declarations.
2021 was also the first year in which the new powers entrusted to the High Authority by the law of 6 August 2019 on the transformation of the civil service in terms of the ethical control of public officials were fully exercised. The general assessment shows that administrations are more aware of the new system, and less often mistakenly refer cases to the High Authority. However, the new procedures, in particular the central role of the hierarchical authority, still need to be improved. 166 opinions were issued on public-private mobility projects for public servants: 9.2% were opinions of incompatibility and two-thirds of the opinions were accompanied by reservations.
Nearly five years after the implementation of the register of interest representatives, the progress made in terms of transparency and tracking of the normative footprint is undeniable, but the system remains weakened by an overly complex legislative and regulatory framework. In October 2021, the High Authority drew up an assessment of the register and proposed several necessary adaptations to ensure its durability and effectiveness, as it approaches its extension to the local level on 1 July 2022. Under constant law, the difficulties observed at national level risk being amplified by the specificities of territorial public action.
At the end of 2021, 2,391 entities were registered in the register. They declared 10,780 interest representation actions that same year. 236 notifications of non-compliance for failure to file activity declarations were sent in 2021 and one formal notice for non-compliance with declaration obligations was made public.
The High Authority attaches great importance to raising awareness and providing support to all its audiences subject to ethical and reporting obligations, in close collaboration with other integrity stakeholders. In 2021, it carried out several targeted information actions for public officials, prior to filing campaigns. In addition, it continued its efforts to make interest representatives aware of their obligations and launched a digital platform dedicated to lobbying, intended for both citizens and interest representatives.
The High Authority also published Volume II of its ethical guide for administrations, ethics officers, civil servants and public officials, setting out its expertise and doctrine on the risks of conflicts of interest in an educational manner.
Finally, this 2021 activity report is an important step: it allows the High Authority to assess its missions during the past mandate and to project itself into the next one, in view of the major electoral deadlines of 2022. The High Authority therefore formulates ten proposals to ensure more effective controls and to further prevent breaches of probity.