On 8 and 9 November 2018, the Transparency Agency of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area organized its third international seminar, under the theme “public-private integrity for a new governance”. The President of the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life, Jean-Louis Nadal, participated in this event, which brought together representatives of local, national and international public institutions, as well as of the private sector, civil society and academia.
The seminar was opened by the Dean of the Bar Association of Barcelona, the Minister of Justice of the Government of Catalonia and the Mayor of Barcelona. Moreover, a musical composition by Pablo Casals, a renowned cellist committed to democracy and freedom, was played.
The connections between transparency, integrity and the trust of citizens in representative democracy were underlined at the opening of the seminar. The governors’ responsibility towards the governed, and the primacy of the public interest over private interests were also recalled.
The various panels addressed the application of ethical principles to the daily activities of public administrations and, in particular, to the relations of these administrations with private entities, such as service providers or interest representatives. Mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest were specifically endorsed.
The President of the High Authority took part in a panel on public integrity policies and their inclusive strategies. While referring to the Authority’s action in this area, the President argued that public integrity policies are inclusive both in the sense that they bring together the public administrations in charge of carrying them out, and in the sense that they create a common culture of integrity in the public sector. Furthermore, he noted that public integrity policies are inclusive because they connect citizens to public officials. The President reiterated the importance of citizen participation in democratic control.
Besides, the ethical framework of the City of Paris and its recent innovations were highlighted by the presentations of Marie-Françoise Lebon-Blanchard, central ethics officer of the City of Paris, Yves Charpenel, president of the Ethics Commission of the members of the Paris City Council, and Issam El Abdouli, legal adviser to the Mayor of Paris. Likewise, other ethical frameworks, such as those of the City of Bogotá, the Basque Autonomous Community, and the United Nations, were described.
Discussions draw attention to the common challenges facing authorities responsible for transparency and integrity in the public sector. Indeed, despite the diversity of structures and political contexts, these authorities are confronted with similar obstacles. Therefore, they were able to share experiences and good practices in promoting compliance with ethical requirements.
Finally, the seminar participants recognized the need to coordinate the efforts of all actors in society, whether public or private, to combat corruption, strengthen good governance, and thus consolidate democracy.