Following the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ invitation, Rights in light of the theme report to be given at the Human Rights Council’s forty-fourth session in June 2020 (based on EU declarations made at the latest UNCAC Conference of State Parties in Vienna in 2017 and the Implementation Review Group Meeting in Vienna in 2019).
It jeopardizes the rule of law and our society’ fundamental ideals. Corruption has broad social, political, and economic ramifications. Furthermore, corruption is frequently a facilitator of security-related crimes. In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Progress, the international community acknowledged the negative impacts of corruption on economic and social development.
It is a part of the European Union’s acquis. Preventive steps, criminalization, asset freezing, confiscation, and recovery, and international collaboration are all essential components of any anti-corruption campaign. In these areas, the EU and its member states have taken action.
For example, in March, EU institutions agreed on a European directive to protect whistleblowers, which will be formally enacted by the end of the year. By establishing EU-wide standards, the directive and national implementing legislation would ensure a high level of protection for whistleblowers who expose breaches of EU law. It will create safe routes for reporting both within an organization and to public authorities, and it will protect whistleblowers in both the public and private sectors from reprisal. By adequately safeguarding whistleblowers who provide information to enforcement agencies, this Directive will make a substantial contribution to the fight against corruption. It will help to prevent and deter fraud and other illicit acts that harm the EU’s financial interests, as well as the effective implementation of EU rules in a variety of policy areas, such as public procurement, financial services, and anti-money laundering.
The EU authorities have been collaborating with Member States to strengthen mutual recognition of freezing orders across the EU.
By establishing beneficial ownership registries of companies and other legal arrangements, central registries of bank account information, enhancing supervisory cooperation, and broadening the criteria for listing high-risk third countries, the EU framework against money laundering was fundamentally improved in 2018. In addition, in June 2019, a new Directive was approved enabling access to and sharing of financial and other information, as well as increasing collaboration between law enforcement authorities and Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and between FIUs. This Directive represents a significant step forward in the investigation of financial crimes committed by serious and organized crime. Europol will also be allowed to receive bank account information from national authorities in appropriate circumstances, allowing Europol to better help Member States’ investigations.
The EU has also established the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is expected to begin operations by the end of 2020 and will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting offences such as fraud, corruption, and money laundering in 22 EU Member States.
In 2015, the European Commission started an initiative to share anti-corruption experience across the EU. This provides an opportunity for anti-corruption practitioners to learn from legislative, institutional, and policy improvements in other Member States. The style is open and collaborative, allowing for an open discussion of successful measures as well as challenges and hurdles to putting them in place efficiently.
In the global battle against corruption, the UNCAC evaluation of implementation plays a critical role. The review assists us in determining where we stand and what holes need to be filled.
The EU has praised the UNODC for taking real steps to improve synergies and minimize duplications in the conduct of international reviews, and has urged the UNODC to keep reflecting. The EU has also urged all concerned secretariats of other review mechanisms and bodies to consider concluding a cooperation framework, such as a Memorandum of Understanding, and to submit and begin implementing practical ideas.
The EU and its Member States are actively encouraging constructive discussion between States Parties and civil society in the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption, as such discussion will increase the convention’s impact and implementation. In the second review cycle, the EU and its Member States have urged for more effective civil society participation.
We’re trying to put the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation’s pledges into action, which help to implement the UNCAC and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.