INFORMATION

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International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

In June and July, following the adoption of a sixth package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia, the European Union institutions adopted measures to regulate lobbying by Russian companies.

The European Commission has published its annual report on the rule of law and the implementation of its members’ code of conduct for the year 2021. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body, has also published its annual activity report.

The High Authority for Transparency in Public Life has created, together with eleven authorities with similar missions, the European Public Ethics Network.

In June and July, following the adoption of a sixth package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia, the European Union institutions adopted measures to regulate lobbying by Russian companies.

The European Commission has published its annual report on the rule of law and the implementation of its members’ code of conduct for the year 2021. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body, has also published its annual activity report.

The High Authority for Transparency in Public Life has created, together with eleven authorities with similar missions, the European Public Ethics Network.

 

EUROPEAN UNION (EU)

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

Following the adoption by the Council on 3 June 2022 of the sixth package of economic and individual sanctions targeting Russia and Belarus for its support to Moscow, Russian lobbyists should be banned from the EU institutions. These measures include, in addition to a ban on the purchase, import or transfer of crude oil and certain oil & gas products from Russia to the EU, a ban on providing Russia with accounting, public relations, and consulting services. Lobbyists for Russian companies should lose their accreditation to represent their company’s interests to European public officials. (Politico, 21 June 2022)

As the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (FPEU) ends on 30 June 2022, France will no longer publish its ambassadors’ appointments with lobbyists in Brussels. Indeed, the website of the Permanent Representation included a page, now deleted, which brought together all the appointments of the Ambassador and his deputy with lobbyists during the FPEU and the previous six months. The Member States had committed themselves to this publication obligation only during their presidency period, although some states, such as Portugal and Germany, continue to publish such appointments after the end of their presidency. (Contexte, 25 July 2022)

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

The European Commission has published its annual report on the implementation of its members’ Code of Conduct for the year 2021. In particular, the report refers to the establishment of a network of “ethics and transparency” points of contact within the commissioners’ offices. It also mentions a new inter-institutional agreement on the EU transparency register and a new form to be filled in by lobbyists. The report also recalls the rules for post-employment activities envisaged by former Commissioners for a period of two years after the end of their term of office. If the proposed activity is related to the former Commissioner’s portfolio, the Commission can only take a decision after consulting the independent Ethics Committee. In 2021, the Commission adopted 20 decisions on 21 post-office activities and a total of 78 decisions were taken on 86 activities of former Juncker Commissioners. (European Commission)

The European Commission also published its third annual report on the rule of law, which analyses the general framework and events affecting the rule of law in 2021 in the 27 Member States. The report examines developments in four key areas for the rule of law: justice systems, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and media freedom, and other institutional issues related to the balance of power. The Commission’s concerns are mainly focused on Poland and Hungary. The 2022 edition of the report presents recommendations to the Member States in a new way. (European Commission, 13 July 2022)

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

In a report published on 30 June, the European Court of Auditors highlights the European Commission’s increasing use of external consultants, which represents an expenditure of around €1 billion per year. The use of external consultants, presented as necessary by the report’s auditors to develop the Commission’s objectives, is apparently insufficiently supervised. Shortcomings are noted, such as the lack of guidelines on the conditions under which consultants can be used, and the lack of a cost-benefit analysis measuring the benefits of using external consultants rather than in-house staff. This would lead to risks of over-reliance on such services and conflicts of interest. To address this, the auditors make several recommendations, such as monitoring the risks associated with the use of external consultants and increasing transparency on their use. (European Court of Auditors, 30 June 2022; Contexte, 4 July 2022)

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

In the context of the “Uber Files” revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the former Dutch European Commissioner for Competition is being criticised for not respecting the European Commission’s ethical rules set out in the Code of Conduct. She is said to have had regular dealings with the transport company Uber during the last months of her term of office and to have intervened in favour of the company during her 18-month reserve period at the end of her term of office, before joining the company a few months later. The Commission is currently awaiting clarification from the former Commissioner on her dealings with Uber. (Politico, 12 July 2022; Le Monde, 12 July 2022)

 

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body, has published its 22nd activity report for the year 2021. While recognising lobbying as a legitimate activity, the report calls for greater transparency and accountability of states to inform citizens of possible actions to influence public decisions. This can be done by setting up registers of lobbyists, indicating who has been in contact with whom and on what subjects. The report reviews corruption prevention measures taken in GRECO member states in 2021 as part of its 4th and 5th evaluation rounds, relating to parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors and senior executive positions in central governments. (Council of Europe)

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

In order to fight corruption and in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a project for an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) has been initiated by the NGO Integrity Initiatives International and Club de Madrid. Endorsed in June by some one hundred world leaders, the body would act as a last resort and serve to bridge national inequalities in legislation on corruption issues. (Le Temps, 7 June 2022)

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

On 13 July 2022, the OECD published a report reviewing its survey on the determining factors of trust in public institutions (Trust Survey) conducted in 2021. Citizens in the 22 OECD countries that volunteered to participate in the first round of the programme were asked about their perceptions of the integrity of public officials, the fairness of government programmes or trust in the public service. Corruption and mismanagement in the public sector are cited as the main reasons for distrust, while ethical behaviour and the absence of corruption promote trust. The survey results vary considerably from country to country, due to a range of cultural, social, institutional and economic factors. Nevertheless, the results show clear general trends that should enable governments to improve their democratic mechanisms. (OECD, 13 July 2022)

 

NGO

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

The US branches of the NGO Transparency International issued an open letter on 6 June, taking advantage of the 2022 Summit of the Americas, to warn about the state of corruption, the decline in democracy and the unprecedented erosion of human rights on the continent. The NGO calls for strong measures to strengthen citizens’ trust, notably by publishing the declarations of assets, interests and taxes of public officials, but also by regulating their mobility between the public and private sectors. They also call for the development of common systems and statistics to assess transparency and access to information and ensure that they are easily accessible to civil society. Finally, the letter calls for anti-corruption clauses to be included in all public contracts and for measures to be developed to combat bribery, international corruption, organised crime, money laundering and asset recovery, objectives that were already agreed upon at the Summit of the Americas in Lima in 2018.

 

GEOGRAPHIC AREAS

International Newsletter of the HATVP – June and July 2022

As part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life organised a conference on 9 June entitled, “Ethics and transparency: what tools can be used to build citizens’ trust?” The following day, 11 public ethics authorities from EU member states adopted a joint declaration and created the European Public Ethics Network. Aimed at promoting public ethics and transparency, this network will allow for a regular exchange between its members and give more visibility to such issues within the European Union. This network aims to bring together the authorities of the EU Member States competent in such matters and to become the preferred point of contact of European authorities in matters of public integrity. (HATVP, 29 June 2022)

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