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The President of the High Authority takes part in a conference on conflicts of interests

The President of the High Authority takes part in a conference on conflicts of interests

On 24 February 2017, the President of the High Authority for transparency in public life, Mr. Jean-Louis Nadal, took part in a conference on monitoring conflicts of interests organized in Barcelona, at the Parliament of Cataluña, by the Antifraud Office of Cataluña after publishing its report on this topic.

The conference was opened by the President of the Catalan Parliament, Ms. Forcadell, and by the Director of the Antifraud Office of Cataluña, Mr. Gimeno, who briefly presented the report and its main recommendations. The President of the High Authority got back on the genesis of the institution and its main missions, highlighting a few of the main innovations of the Laws of 11 October 2013, which are preventing conflicts of interests, counselling public officials and their institutions, and controlling private activities they undertake after leaving office. He also emphasised the necessity to balance control functions and counsel to public officials in order to anchor durably a culture of integrity in public life.

After his intervention, M. Oscar Roca, director of the division for prevention of conflicts of interests and co-author of the report, presented it and recalled the main recommendations. He notably insisted on the necessity to have a single definition of a conflict of interest and to evolve from a reactive treatment of such situations to a preventive approach by enlarging abstention obligation in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Morover, the report calls for a more global vision of the detection and management of conflicts of interest tools and for the establishment of provisions in Catalan law to protect whistle-blowers.

The panel then allowed confronting different experiences on the subject. The Secretary general of the Catalan Parliament, Mr. Muro, presented regulations approved by the Parliament, notably the creation of the Transparency portal and the approbation of the code of conduct on 28 July 2016. The Director of the National office for prevention of conflicts of interest, Ms. Lopez, mainly mentioned the reforms brought by the Law on transparency and reminded that over the past eight years, 20 procedures have been opened and 13 have been solved thanks to a reinforced and enlarged control of public officials. The Director of the Transparency office of the City of Madrid, Mr. Meseguer, insited on the necessity to produce clear norms and apply them more rigorously, with a more global vision of the prevention of conflicts of interests, echoing the recommendations of the Catalan office. An expert of the Generalitat, Mr. Folguera, mentioned practical cases of detection of conflicts of interest. The panelists agreed on the fact that the efficiency of the system of conflict of interest management relies upon norms, the quality of their implementation and the analysis of its weaknesses to reform it better (declaration of activities before the mandate, authorization to undertake new private activities after the mandate, questions on the scope of public officials who have to submit declarations, etc.).

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