Category Archives: Fight against Corruption

The European Union (EU) conducts policies to combat corruption, both within international and European organisations and in the private sector, for example in connection with professional activities.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK
Fighting corruption
Contact-point network against corruption
A comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy
Combating corruption in the private sector
Convention against corruption involving officials
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS
United Nations Convention against Corruption
Negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD regarding action against corruption

Negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD regarding action against corruption

Negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD regarding action against corruption

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD regarding action against corruption

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD regarding action against corruption

Document or Iniciative

Common Position 97/661/JHA of 6 October 1997 defined by the Council on negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD relating to corruption.

Summary

Member States will support the drawing up of appropriate international instruments providing for bribery of foreign officials and officials of international organisations to be made a criminal offence. Without prejudice to questions of jurisdiction the offence should cover corruption with regard to any State or international organisation.

Member States will ensure that the provisions of the instruments drawn up in the Council of Europe and the OECD are compatible with instruments drawn up between them, in particular with regard to judicial assistance, extradition, combating corruption and the protection of the Community’s financial interests.

In negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD relating to corruption, Member States, will as far as is practicable, coordinate their positions, at the Presidency’s initiative, and seek to arrive at common standpoints on all issues which have significant implications for the interests of the European Union. The Commission will be fully associated with this work.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Common position 97/661/JHA 2.11.1997 Official Journal L 279 of 13.10.1997

Related Acts

Second joint position (97/783/JHA) on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on negotiations held in the Council of Europe and the OECD on the fight against corruption [Official Journal L 320 of 21.11.1997].
On 13 November 1997 the Council adopted a Second joint position (97/783/JHA).
This joint position clarifies the position of the Member States in the deliberations in the Council of Europe and the OECD on the draft OECD convention on the fight against corruption.

The Member States’ position concerns:

  • the scope of the draft OECD convention;
  • the definition of “foreign public official” in the draft OECD convention;
  • the inclusion of the concept of influence peddling in the future Council of Europe convention;
  • the introduction in the two conventions of rules on jurisdiction ensuring an equivalent level of commitment for all State parties in the suppression of acts of active corruption;
  • the establishment of an effective monitoring mechanism in the two conventions.

United Nations Convention against Corruption

United Nations Convention against Corruption

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about United Nations Convention against Corruption

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

United Nations Convention against Corruption

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Summary

At the conference held in Merida (Mexico) from 9 to 11 December 2003, the United Nations Convention against Corruption was opened for signing. At its 2658th session on 10 May 2005, the Council adopted the Commission proposal concerning the signing of the Convention.

The Decision authorises the President of the Council to designate the persons empowered to sign the United Nations Convention on behalf of the European Community. On 15 September 2005, the European Commission and the Council Presidency signed the Convention on behalf of the European Community. The Convention, now known as the Merida Convention, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 31 October 2003 (Resolution 58/4) and was open for signing until 9 December 2005.

Producing an effective instrument against corruption

In December 2000, the UN General Assembly decided to establish a special committee open to all States for drawing up an effective international legal instrument against corruption (Resolution 55/61). The committee negotiated the Convention between January 2002 and October 2003. The Commission represented the European Community’s interests.

The Commission considers that the objectives set by the Council in its negotiating directives have been attained. The Convention provides for a high standard of preventive and technical assistance measures in matters within the Community’s powers, in particular with regard to the internal market. This includes measures to prevent and to combat money laundering, as well as standards on accounting in the private sector and on transparency and equal access of all candidates for public works supply and service contracts.

As the Member States stated that they would sign the Convention as soon as it was opened for signing in Merida, Mexico (Spain alone of the EU15 not having done so), the Commission asserts that the European Community should also do so. To that end, the Commission proposed that the Presidency of the Council designate the persons empowered to sign the Convention on behalf of the European Community. The Council adopted the Commission proposal without debate.

Fighting corruption: the UN Convention

The purposes of the Convention are to:

  • promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively;
  • promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance;
  • promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.

It applies to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption and to the freezing, seizure, confiscation and return of the proceeds of offences.

The Convention enumerates in detail the measures to prevent corruption, including the application of prevention policies and practices, the establishment of bodies for that purpose, the application of codes of conduct for public officials and objective criteria for the recruitment and promotion of civil servants, and public procurement. It recommends promoting transparency and accountability in the management of public finances and in the private sector, with tougher accounting and auditing standards. Measures to prevent money-laundering are also provided for, together with measures to secure the independence of the judiciary. Public reporting and the participation of society are encouraged as preventive measures.

Regarding criminalisation, detection and repression, the Convention recommends the State Parties to adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish a whole series of criminal offences. These are:

  • corruption of national or foreign public officials and officials of public international organisations;
  • embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion by a public official of any public or private property;
  • trading in influence;
  • abuse of functions and illicit enrichment.

In all respects, the Convention regards as corruption the offer or acceptance of undue advantages for oneself or for another person or entity.

In the private sector, it calls for the creation of offences of embezzlement and corruption. There would also be offences of laundering the proceeds of crime, handling stolen property, obstructing the administration of justice, and participating in and attempting embezzlement or corruption.

The State Parties are recommended to take the necessary measures to:

  • provide for the liability of legal persons;
  • allow the freezing, seizure and confiscation;
  • protect witnesses, experts and victims;
  • protect reporting persons;
  • tackle the consequences of acts of corruption;
  • ensure that entities or persons who have suffered damage as a result of an act of corruption have the right to initiate legal proceedings for compensation;
  • establish a body or bodies or appoint persons specialised in combating corruption through law enforcement;
  • encourage cooperation with law enforcement authorities;
  • encourage cooperation between national authorities and with the private sector;
  • overcome obstacles that may arise out of the application of bank secrecy laws;
  • take account of the previous convictions of an alleged offender in another State for the purpose of criminal proceedings;
  • establish their jurisdiction over offences committed on their territory, or against them, or by one of their nationals etc.

State Parties are also to take the necessary measures concerning proceedings and penalties against public officials, so as to strike a balance between their immunities and the offences committed by them, including the ensuing consequences.

The Convention devotes a chapter to international cooperation. The State Parties are to cooperate on criminal matters and on matters of extradition and transfer of sentenced persons, in a variety of situations described by the Convention. Mutual judicial assistance is a major item in this chapter and the Convention considers a variety of scenarios to provide for the largest range of possibilities for assistance.

The State Parties can also transfer criminal proceedings when necessary, conduct joint investigations and make use of special investigative techniques such as electronic surveillance. Enforcement authorities are called on to cooperate with each other through more effective channels of communication and cooperation when conducting investigations.

Chapter V concerns asset recovery. The return of assets pursuant to this chapter is a fundamental principle of the Convention. Financial institutions are encouraged to verify the identity of customers and beneficial owners of high-value accounts and to avoid banks that have no physical presence and are not affiliated with a regulated financial group. The chapter further specifies measures to be taken for the direct recovery of assets and the machinery for doing this by means of international cooperation on confiscation. Such assets should be returned in accordance with the rules laid down by the Convention. A financial intelligence unit and bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements to enhance the effectiveness of international cooperation are also called for.

State Parties are required to develop specific training programmes and provide one another the widest measure of technical assistance. The collection, exchange and analysis of information on corruption is provided for, as are practical measures to enhance cooperation at various levels, as well as financial and material assistance to support the efforts of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to prevent and fight corruption effectively.

A conference of the State Parties is established to improve their capacity and cooperation, in order to achieve the objectives set forth in the Convention and to promote and review its implementation.

The Convention is open for signature by regional economic integration organisations, provided that at least one Member State of such an organisation has signed it. It is to enter into force on the 90th day after the date of deposit of the 30th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Related Acts

Council Decision 2008/201/EC of 25 September 2008 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption [Official Journal L 287 of 29.10.2008].
With this Decision, the United Nations Convention against Corruption was approved on behalf of the European Community. The Decision authorises the President of the Council to designate the person(s) who shall be empowered to deposit the Community’s instrument of formal confirmation. This instrument is binding on the Community. It consists of a declaration of the Community’s competence regarding matters that are governed by the Convention (Annex II) and of a statement concerning dispute settlement on the interpretation or application of the Convention (Annex III).

A comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy

A comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

A comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee – On a comprehensive EU policy against corruption [COM(2003) 317 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

The Communication adopts the definition of corruption used by the United Nations’ Global Programme against Corruption, i.e. “abuse of power for private gain”. In its conclusion it sets out the principle elements of a future EU anti-corruption policy:

  • a strong political commitment at the highest level;
  • the implementation of existing anti-corruption instruments should be closely monitored and strengthened. The Commission recommends that the European Community adhere to the Council of Europe’s conventions on corruption and participate in its monitoring mechanism, GRECO;
  • EU Member States should develop and improve investigative tools and allocate more specialised staff to the fight against corruption;
  • Member States and EU institutions and bodies should redouble their efforts to combat corruption damaging the financial interests of the European Community;
  • common integrity standards should be established for public administrations across the EU;
  • the efforts of the private sector to raise integrity and corporate responsibility should be supported;
  • the fight against political corruption and illicit financing of social partner entities and other interest groups should be stepped up;
  • corruption-related issues should be addressed in dialogues with acceding, candidate and other third countries;
  • the EU should continue to make the fight against corruption an integral part of its external and trade police.

These elements are elaborated in the different sections of the Communication. A historical introduction and a section on terminology are followed by a third section that highlights one of the most important aspects: the priority given to political commitment. A clear political determination and an unambiguous stance by the Member States and the EU would give a clear signal to representatives of other countries.

The Communication also stresses the need to develop an anti-corruption culture in the EU institutions. It reviews the steps taken by the Commission in this field, particularly the creation of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). It also refers to the guide to sound financial management and other internal measures taken by the Commission. Following the creation of the Investigation and Disciplinary Office (IDOC) in 2002, there is now a need for a memorandum of agreement to regulate relations between IDOC and OLAF.

Giving effect to criminal law instruments

This section explains the need to agree on common definitions of offences and common penalties and to elaborate a multidisciplinary EU policy. Key elements here are the ratification of European and international anti-corruption instruments, the monitoring of their implementation and the fight against corruption in the private sector.

On the subject of monitoring implementation, the Commission points out that, once the EU instruments are in place, there will be a need to align criminal law provisions in the Member States. International efforts to combat corruption can prove their worth only if they are followed by monitoring and evaluation mechanisms based on peer review. The Communication also points to the lack of a proper follow-up or evaluation mechanism comparable to GRECO, the group that monitors the implementation of the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption measures. However, the Commission is not at this stage in favour of setting up a separate evaluation and monitoring mechanism for the EU, in order to avoid duplication of effort.

Although the Council of Europe’s civil and criminal law conventions on corruption and the Statute of GRECO all contain specific accession clauses for the European Community, the EU has not yet acceded to them. The Commission is preparing for accession. If participation in GRECO is not regarded as a viable option, the possibility of setting up a separate EU evaluation mechanism will be considered.

The fight against corruption in the private sector is also discussed. A Joint Action to make corruption a criminal offence was adopted in 1998. In 2002 Denmark submitted an initiative for a more binding Council Framework Decision on the same subject. The Commission welcomes this initiative because it gives the same degree of legal protection against corruption, regardless of whether it occurs in the public or the private sector.

There have been several advances in the field of police and judicial cooperation in the EU:

  • the judicial cooperation network, EUROJUST, was set up in 2002 with a mandate that covers fraud and corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation;
  • the mandate of the European Police Office (Europol) has been extended;
  • the Commission has suggested appointing a European Financial Prosecutor to deal with corruption affecting the financial interests of the Community;
  • the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant, applicable since 1 January 2004, will be a key factor in the fight against corruption because it will make it easier for offenders to be surrendered to the judicial authorities of the requesting State;
  • the second Money Laundering Directive adopted in 2001 (see the section on follow-up work in the fact sheet on money laundering, Directive 2001/97/EC) classifies corruption as a serious offence and thus increases the obligations on the Member States to tackle it;
  • the Council is currently examining proposals for two new legal acts on the mutual recognition of orders freezing the proceeds of corruption offences and facilitating the confiscation of such proceeds.

In the Commission’s view, however, the main problem continues to be the implementation of legislation, and more importance needs to be attached to preventing, investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating corruption cases. It calls on the Member States to introduce common standards for the collection of evidence, the confiscation of the proceeds, special investigative techniques and the protection of whistleblowers, victims and witnesses. It also urges Member States, where necessary, to introduce clear guidelines for the staff of public administrations.

The anti-corruption authorities must be independent, autonomous and endowed with effective means for gathering evidence and protecting those who help them to combat corruption. Inter-agency cooperation and joint investigations should be encouraged.

Preventing corruption – the single market and other internal policies

The Commission wants to focus initiatives on preventive measures designed to avoid conflicts of interest and to introduce systematic checks and controls. It calls for steps to raise integrity in the public sector and recommends a comprehensive dialogue on minimum standards and benchmarking. It undertakes to examine the question of public procurement in the light of the introduction of new rules and stresses that bribes paid to foreign public officials will no longer be tax-deductible.

In order to raise integrity in the private sector, the Commission calls on the professional associations of notaries, lawyers, accountants, auditors and tax consultants to continue to tighten up their self-regulatory regimes. In order to enhance corporate responsibility, it urges companies, which may be both offenders and victims of corruption, to apply modern accounting standards, to adopt adequate internal audit schemes and codes of conduct, and to establish clear rules on whistleblowing. There is a need to raise awareness in the private sector as a whole, and the Commission intends to continue to stimulate the dialogue between the public and the private sector through initiatives such as the EU Forum on the prevention of organised crime.

The statutory audit will be the subject of a forthcoming communication from the Commission that will outline future policy priorities in this field. Although the EU adopted a Regulation in June 2002 requiring listed companies, including banks and insurance companies, to prepare their consolidated accounts in accordance with International Accounting Standards (IAS) and issued recommendations on the independence of the statutory auditor, there are at present no agreed auditing standards in the EU.

The Communication also includes a section on special bodies and organisations that are at the interface between the public and the private sector, such as political parties and trade unions. The Commission is calling for a review of the links maintained by these organisations. It argues that only transparency in the financing of social partners and interest groups and in election spending can prevent potential conflicts of interest. On the basis of such a study, the Commission will produce proposals on best practice in terms of transparency.

External aspects

In order to promote anti-corruption policies in the ten new EU Member States, candidate countries and other third countries, the Commission has drawn up ten general principles, which are annexed to the Communication. It also proposes increasing efforts to extend the comprehensive anti-corruption strategy to all of these countries and recognises that the biggest challenge remains effective implementation. Better coordination could be achieved with a single anti-corruption unit or body, as suggested by the Commission on a number of occasions. Better training and specialisation in this area are also recommended, as is a general strengthening of the national institutions.

In its fight against corruption and as part of its new neighbourhood policy, the EU is examining the possibilities for stepping up police and judicial cooperation and developing mutual legal assistance with neighbouring countries.

In the area of cooperation agreements and external aid programmes, the Commission is currently reviewing its framework agreement, its specific financing agreements and tender documents with a view to inserting anti-corruption clauses. This has already been done in the case of the ACP-EU partnership agreement signed in Cotonou in 2000.

In trade policy, studies have shown that corruption can be combated by open, transparent and competitive market conditions, and this is the strategy which the Commission is pursuing. It also recommends extending the Agreement on Government Procurement to other parties to the WTO and is committed to negotiating a multilateral agreement on transparency in government procurement.

Finally, the Commission invites Member States to monitor the implementation of anti-corruption clauses for officially supported export credits, in line with the revised OECD “Action Statement” of 2003.

Background

The EU has produced several documents on fighting corruption:

  • Article 29 of the Treaty on European Union mentions preventing and combating corruption as one of the ways of achieving the objective of creating and maintaining a European area of freedom, security and justice;
  • the 1997 action programme on organised crime calls for a comprehensive anti-corruption policy based on preventive measures;
  • the first communication on an EU anti-corruption policy suggested banning the tax deductibility of bribes and introducing rules on public procurement procedures, accounting and auditing standards, and measures relating to external aid and assistance;
  • the Council’s 1998 Vienna Action Plan and the Tampere European Council in 1999 also identified corruption as a particularly important area where action was needed;
  • the Millennium Strategy on the Prevention and Control of Organised Crime reiterated the need for approximation of national legislation and to develop multidisciplinary EU policy and urged Member States to ratify the EU and Council of Europe anti-corruption instruments;
  • the Communication on the fight against fraud, which sought to establish an overall strategic approach.

The EU has also established its own instruments to tackle corruption:

  • the two conventions on the protection of the European Communities’ financial interests and the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of the EU Member States;
  • the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), set up in 1999, which has interinstitutional investigative powers.

The Commission is also in favour of accession to a number of instruments originating with other international bodies. The aim is to take account of the activities that already exist, in order to avoid duplication, and to ensure that measures already existing in the EU have the same mandatory character in other international organisations. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and the United Nations have already produced their own conventions on corruption:

  • OECD Convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions;
  • the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption of the Council of Europe;
  • the Civil Law Convention on Corruption of the Council of Europe;
  • the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

 

Combating corruption in the private sector

Combating corruption in the private sector

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating corruption in the private sector

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Combating corruption in the private sector

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector.

Summary

Active and passive corruption in the private sector is a criminal offence in all Member States. Legal persons * may be held liable for such offences.

Inclusion of the concept of corruption in national criminal law

Member States are required to penalise acts intentionally carried out as part of business activities:

  • Corrupting a person: by promising, offering or giving directly or through an intermediary to a person who in any capacity directs or works for a private sector entity, an undue advantage of any kind, for that person or for a third party in order that that person should perform or refrain from performing any act in breach of that person’s duties *;
  • Demanding an undue advantage: a person requests or receives, directly or through an intermediary, an undue advantage of any kind, or accepts the promise of such an advantage, for him or herself or for a third party, while in any capacity directing or working for a private sector entity, in order to perform or refrain from performing any act in breach of one’s duties *.

The above applies to business activities within profit and non-profit making entities. Member States may limit the scope to conduct which involves or could involve a distortion of competition in relation to the purchase of goods or commercial services. Member States must declare to the Council how they are going to act at the time of the adoption of this Framework Decision. Limitations are valid for five years as from 22 July 2005. Before 22 July 2010, the Council will review declarations made by Member States in relation to limitations.

Liability of legal and natural persons

The aim of this Framework Decision is to involve the liability not only of natural persons in the capacity of employees but also of legal persons such as firms.

With regard to the liability of natural persons, Member States must ensure that the acts referred to are liable to a maximum penalty of at least one to three years’ imprisonment. The right to engage in business activities may be temporarily suspended. Instigation to commit one of the acts set out above or aiding or abetting such conduct is also an offence.

Legal persons may be held liable for offences involving corruption if they are committed for their benefit by any natural person acting individually or who has a leading position within a legal person based on:

  • a power of representation of the legal person;
  • an authority to take decisions on behalf of the legal person;
  • an authority to exercise control within the legal person.

Penalties for legal persons may include criminal or non-criminal fines. Moreover, Member States may consider exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or aid, temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice of commercial activities, etc.

Jurisdiction

Each Member State has jurisdiction if the offence has been committed:

  • within its territory;
  • by one of its nationals;
  • for the benefit of a legal person that has its head office in the territory of that Member State.

This Framework Decision repeals Joint Action 98/742/JHA. It applies to Gibraltar. Member States must take the necessary measures to comply with the Framework Decision before 22 July 2005.

This act is affected by the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Case C-176/03 concerning the distribution of powers in criminal matters between the European Commission and the Council of the European Union.

Key terms used in the act
  • Legal person means any entity having such status under the applicable national law, except for States or other public bodies acting in the exercise of State authority and for public international organisations.
  • Breach of duty shall be understood in accordance with national law. The concept of breach of duty in national law must cover as a minimum any disloyal behaviour constituting a breach of a statutory duty, or a breach of professional regulations.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA 31.07.2003 22 July 2005 OJ L 192 of 31.07.2003

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council based on Article 9 of the Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector [COM(2007) 328 final – not published in the Official Journal].

The European Commission analyses the measures taken by Member States to achieve the objectives in the above Framework Decision, and then goes on to call for the immediate adoption of the necessary legal measures to combat corruption in the private sector.

In relation to Article 2 of the Framework Decision, the Commission notes that most Member States found it difficult to incorporate into national law this “key Article” defining criminal acts of active and passive corruption. Only Belgium and the United Kingdom correctly transposed all its elements. According to the Commission, the gaps in the legal measures by the other Member States must be corrected rapidly to prevent this legislation from being easily circumvented. The report then concentrates on Articles 1 to 7 and 10. Articles 8, 9 and 11 do not need to be transposed.

Lastly, the Commission draws attention to two matters to be dealt with in future: the amendment of the legal basis of the Framework Decision following the judgment in Case C-176/03 (see above), and the review of Article 2 of the Council Framework Decision before 21 July 2010 with regard to renewing the declarations by Member States.

Contact-point network against corruption

Contact-point network against corruption

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Contact-point network against corruption

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Contact-point network against corruption

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/852/JHA of 24 October 2008 on a contact-point network against corruption.

Summary

This decision establishes a network of Member States’ contact points responsible for preventing and combating corruption. It aims to enhance cooperation between these contact points in order to step up action against corruption at the European Union (EU) level.

The network is composed of the relevant authorities and agencies of Member States. Each Member State designates one to three organisations as its members. The Commission also participates in the activities of the network and designates its own representatives. Similarly, Europol and Eurojust may take part in the network. An updated list of contact points will be maintained.

The tasks of the network consist of:

  • setting up a forum for the exchange of best practices and experiences concerning the prevention and fight against corruption;
  • facilitating and upholding communication between its members.

A specific website will be created for these purposes. Furthermore, the network is to meet at least once a year in order to carry out its tasks.

The establishment of the network will not affect the rules governing police and judicial cooperation between Member States nor the role of the European Police College (CEPOL).

The informal collaboration taking place between the European Partners against Corruption (EPAC) is the basis for the organisation of the network. Each Member State, the Commission, Europol and Eurojust is to bear its own expenses relating to the network.

Background

At the AGIS conference of November 2004 on the enhancement of operational cooperation in fighting corruption in the EU, the EPAC supported the establishment of a European anti-corruption network. This initiative was further endorsed at their annual meeting in November 2006.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2008/852/JHA

25.10.2008

OJ L 301 of 12.11.2008

Fighting corruption

Fighting corruption

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fighting corruption

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Fighting corruption

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 6 June 2011 – Fighting corruption in the EU [COM (2011) 308 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Corruption affects all countries of the European Union (EU) to various degrees. Corruption is harmful, not only financially but also socially, because it is often used to mask other serious crimes such as trafficking in drugs or human beings. In addition, it can weaken citizens’ trust in democratic institutions and their political leaders.

Several anti-corruption instruments exist at international and EU level, but their implementation by Member States remains uneven.

In order to strengthen the political will, in all Member States, to tackle this problem, the Commission announces the setting up of an Anti-Corruption Report and calls on EU countries to implement the existing anti-corruption instruments more effectively. It also presents measures aimed at a stronger focus on corruption in EU internal and external policies.

Anti-Corruption Report

Starting in 2013, the Commission will publish an Anti-Corruption Reportevery two years as an EU evaluation and monitoring mechanism. The Report will identify trends and weaknesses that need to be addressed, and stimulate exchange of best practices. It will give a better reflection of the efforts made and problems encountered, and of the causes of corruption.

The Report will be based on data from different sources, including the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations, but also from independent experts, research findings, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Eurojust, Europol, the European Anti-Corruption Network, Member States, Eurobarometer surveys and civil society.

Implementation of existing instruments

The Commission urges the EU countries to transpose all European legislation against corruption in the private sector into their national law and to ensure that it is applied properly.

It also asks the Member States that have not already done so to ratify the existing international anti-corruption instruments: the Criminal Law Convention and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Convention.

The Commission also intends to enhance cooperation with those international authorities and will request EU participation in the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) created within the Council of Europe.

Focus on corruption in EU policies

Anti-corruption should be an integral part of all relevant EU policies, both internal and external.

Internally, the Commission intends in particular to strengthen judicial and police cooperation in the field of corruption, in collaboration with Europol, Eurojust, the European Police College (CEPOL) and OLAF. It also aims to improve the training of law enforcement officials in this field.

The Commission will also propose modernised EU rules on confiscation of criminal assets to ensure that courts in Member States are able to effectively confiscate and recover criminal assets, including in cases involving corruption. Because corruption is often linked to money laundering, the Commission will present a strategy in 2012 to strengthen the quality of criminal financial investigations. Lastly, to gain a better measure of the extent of corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures, an Action Plan to improve statistics on crime and criminal justice is under preparation.

The Commission will also focus on modernising EU rules governing public procurement, accounting standards and statutory audit for EU companies. It has also adopted an Anti-Fraud Strategy against fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union.

Externally, the Commission will continue to focus strongly on the monitoring of anti-corruption policies in candidate countries and potential candidates for EU accession. It plans to make this fight a key aspect of the support given by the EU to countries participating in the Neighbourhood Policy. With regard to cooperation and development policies, the Commission promotes greater use of the conditionality principle, i.e. making compliance with international anti-corruption standards a condition of cooperation and development assistance.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council of 6 June 2011 on the modalities of European Union participation in the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) [COM (2011) 307 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

of 28 September 2011 setting up the Group of Experts on Corruption [OJ C 286 of 30.9.2011].
The task of this Group of Experts is to advise the Commission on all matters relating to corruption and, in particular, to assist it in producing the EU Anti-Corruption Report.

Fight against corruption

Fight against corruption

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fight against corruption

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Fight against corruption

The European Union (EU) conducts policies to combat corruption, both within international and European organisations and in the private sector, for example in connection with professional activities.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK

  • Fighting corruption
  • Contact-point network against corruption
  • A comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy
  • Combating corruption in the private sector
  • Convention against corruption involving officials

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

  • United Nations Convention against Corruption
  • Negotiations in the Council of Europe and the OECD regarding action against corruption

Convention against corruption involving officials

Convention against corruption involving officials

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Convention against corruption involving officials

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against corruption

Convention against corruption involving officials

Document or Iniciative

Council Act of 26 May 1997 drawing up the Convention made on the basis of Article K.3 (2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union, on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union [Official Journal C 195 of 25 June 1997].

Summary

By this Act, the Council is establishing a Convention designed to fight corruption involving European officials or national officials of Member States of the European Union (EU).

On the basis of this Convention, each Member State must take the necessary measures to ensure that conduct constituting an act of passive corruption or active corruption by officials is a punishable criminal offence.

The Convention also provides that Member States must ensure that conduct constituting an act of passive or active corruption, as well as participating in and instigating these acts, is punishable by criminal penalties. In serious cases, these could include penalties involving deprivation of liberty which can give rise to extradition. In addition, Member States must take the necessary measures to allow heads of businesses or any persons having power to take decisions or exercise control within a business to be declared criminally liable in cases of active corruption by a person under their authority acting on behalf of the business.

Each Member State must take the measures necessary to set up its jurisdiction over the offences it has established in accordance with the obligations arising out of this Convention in the following cases:

  • when the offence is committed in whole or in part within its territory;
  • when the offender is one of its nationals or one of its officials;
  • when the offence is committed against European or national officials or against a member of the EU institutions who is also one of its nationals;
  • when the offender is a European official working for a European Community institution, agency or body that has its headquarters in the Member State in question.

If any procedure in connection with an offence established in accordance with the obligations arising out of the Convention concerns at least two Member States, those States must cooperate in the investigation and prosecution and in carrying out the punishment imposed.

The relevant national criminal law must apply the principle whereby a person whose trial has been finally disposed of in a Member State may not be prosecuted in another Member State in respect of the same facts, provided that if a penalty was imposed, it has been enforced, is actually in the process of being enforced or can no longer be enforced under the laws of the sentencing State. However, exceptions to this principle are possible.

Member States may adopt internal legal provisions which go beyond the obligations set out in the Convention.

In the event of a dispute between Member States over the interpretation or application of the Convention, and in the absence of a bilateral resolution, the case must be examined by the Council in accordance with the procedure set out in Title VI of the EU Treaty. If the Council has not found a solution within six months, one of the parties to the dispute may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Communities. This court also has jurisdiction in disputes between a Member State and the European Commission.

The Convention entered into force on 28 September 2005. It is open to accession by any State that becomes a member of the EU. Of the Member States that joined the EU on 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic and Malta still have to accede to the Convention.

Context

Fighting corruption and fraud within the European institutions is a top priority for the EU. At international level, the Commission proposed a Council decision in 2006 relating to the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against corruption. In addition, EU Member States cooperate with non-member countries within international organisations. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe have adopted conventions in this area.

On 14 April 2005 the Council (“Justice and Home Affairs”) adopted a resolution concerning a comprehensive EU policy against corruption [PDF], in which it urges the Member States that have not already done so to ratify and implement inter alia the European Union Convention on the fight against corruption involving European officials or officials of Member States of the EU.

Key words in the Act
  • Official: any European or national official, including any national official of another Member State.
  • European official: any person who is an official or other contracted employee within the meaning of the Staff Regulations of Officials or the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities, as well as any person seconded to the European Communities by the Member States or by any public or private body who carries out functions equivalent to those performed by European Community officials or other servants.
  • National official: official or public officer as defined by the national law of the Member State in which the person in question performs that function for the purposes of application of the criminal law of that Member State.
  • Passive corruption: the deliberate action of an official, who, directly or through an intermediary, requests or receives advantages of any kind whatsoever, for himself or for a third party, or accepts a promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in accordance with his duty or in the exercise of his functions in breach of his official duties.
  • Active corruption: the deliberate action of whosoever promises or gives, directly or through an intermediary, an advantage of any kind whatsoever to an official for himself or for a third party for him to act or refrain from acting in accordance with his duty or in the exercise of his functions in breach of his official duties.

Related Acts

Council Decision of 8 November 2007 concerning the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3(2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union [Official Journal L 304 of 22 November 2007].

By this decision, Bulgaria and Romania accede to the Convention against corruption involving officials.

Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption [COM(2006) 82 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Through this proposal, the Council will make a decision which will allow the Community to become party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption within the limits of its powers.

Consultation procedure (CNS/2006/0023).

Council Decision 2003/642/JHA of 22 July 2003 concerning the application to Gibraltar of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union [Official Journal L 226 of 10 September 2003]

No provision was made in the Convention on corruption regarding its application to Gibraltar, whose international relations are the responsibility of the United Kingdom. This Decision extends application of the Convention to Gibraltar.

Explanatory Report on the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union (text approved by the Council on 3 December 1998) [Official Journal C 391 of 15 December 1998]

First Protocol to the Convention on the protection of the Communities’ financial interests [Official Journal C 313 of 23 October 1996]

With regard to corruption relating to protection of the Communities’ financial interests the Council adopted a first Protocol to the Convention of 26 July 1995 on 27 September 1996, which also focuses on definition of the concepts of “official” and active and passive “corruption” and on harmonisation of the penalties for corruption offences. An Explanatory Report on the Protocol was adopted on 19 December 1997 [Official Journal C 11 of 15 January 1998].

drawing up the Convention on the protection of the European Communities’ financial interests [Official Journal C 316 of 27 November 1995).