Wake up, EU, Stockholm is calling!

The European Council invites the Commission to develop indicators, on the basis of existing systems and common criteria, to measure efforts in the fight against corruption, (…) and to develop a comprehensive anti-corruption policy” (EU Stockholm Programme)

It’s not without reason that this reference is in the Stockholm Progamme:

Greece is drowning in corruption, the Commission noticed yesterday that Bulgaria and Romania keep on struggling to see light at the end of the anti-corruption reform tunnel (see also the blog post by Bulgarian EU blogger Vihar), EU Citizens are frustrated and are loosing faith in the EU, MEPs urgently call for EU anti-corruption action, more and more EU funds are lost (see last week’s Commission report). Consulted stakeholders including civil society shout loudly for action, but the EU remains silent in the face of corruption-related crises and scandals across the member states.

I agree with the Centre for European Reform that it is unclear who is taking the lead in the fight against corruption at the EU level. For me, it is crystal clear that the EU Stockholm Programme provides the EU with a new mandate to drive forward the fight against corruption in the 27 EU member states.

In the long run, the EU needs to start developing a comprehensive EU-wide Anti-Corruption Strategy. This is more than justified since corruption is recognised as serious crime in the Lisbon Treaty (Art 83 TFEU).

The bare minimum for EU anti-corruption action is at least to review regularly the implementation and enforcement by EU member states of the existing EU anti-corruption instruments (e.g. Convention 1997, Council Decision 2003 etc).

Right now, the EU should start publishing annual anti-corruption recommendations on corruption risks, trends and possible weaknesses for all 27 EU Member States. The recommendations should be based on the important work of GRECO, OECD , UNODC and civil society. The EU should use its weight to push for anti-corruption reforms and re-enforce existing anti-corruption monitoring and assessments (while preventing double effort and duplication!).

If the EU highlights corruption risks at an early stage, it will have the great potential to provide early warnings that might prevent future crises such as the one in Greece. The early anti-corruption warning function adds a new feature to the repertoire of existing EU anti-corruption tools.

We are now eagerly awaiting the launch of the new EU anti-corruption policy that the Commission is planning for the end of the year…


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