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Procedure : 2011/2744(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Select a document: :

Texts tabled :

B7-0481/2011

Debates :

PV 14/09/2011 - 15
CRE 14/09/2011 - 15

Votes :

PV 15/09/2011 - 6.4
CRE 15/09/2011 - 6.4
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0388

Debates
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

15. Closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the debate on:

– the oral question to the Council on closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality, by Monica Luisa Macovei, Mariya Nedelcheva, Simon Busuttil and Manfred Weber, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (O-000148/2011 – B7-0419/2011),

– the oral question to the Commission on closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality, by Monica Luisa Macovei, Mariya Nedelcheva, Simon Busuttil and Manfred Weber, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (O-000149/2011 – B7-0420/2011),

– the oral question to the Council on stepping up anti-corruption measures, by Cornelis de Jong, Cornelia Ernst, Nikolaos Chountis, Søren Bo Søndergaard and Alfreds Rubiks, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (O-000154/2011 – B7-0422/2011),

– the oral question to the Commission on stepping up anti-corruption measures, by Cornelis de Jong, Cornelia Ernst, Nikolaos Chountis, Søren Bo Søndergaard and Alfreds Rubiks, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (O-000155/2011 – B7-0423/2011),

– the oral question to the Council on closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality, by Jan Philipp Albrecht and Judith Sargentini, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (O-000172/2011 – B7-0424/2011),

– the oral question to the Commission on closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality, by Jan Philipp Albrecht and Judith Sargentini, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (O-000173/2011 – B7-0425/2011),

– the oral question to the Council on implementing the EU’s anti-corruption package, by Ana Gomes, Claude Moraes, Rita Borsellino and Rosario Crocetta, on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (O-000178/2011 – B7-0427/2011),

– the oral question to the Commission on implementing the EU’s anti-corruption package, by Ana Gomes, Claude Moraes, Rita Borsellino and Rosario Crocetta, on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (O-000179/2011 – B7-0428/2011),

– the oral question to the Council on anti-corruption measures, by Timothy Kirkhope, on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (O-000190/2011 – B7-0431/2011),

– the oral question to the Commission on anti-corruption measures, by Timothy Kirkhope, on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (O-000191/2011 – B7-0432/2011),

– the oral question to the Council on closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality, by Sonia Alfano, Renate Weber, Sarah Ludford, Jan Mulder, Louis Michel, Nathalie Griesbeck, Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, Nadja Hirsch, Stanimir Ilchev and Jens Rohde, on behalf of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (O-000193/2011 – B7-0433/2011), and

– the oral question to the Commission on closing the gap between anti-corruption law and reality, by Sonia Alfano, Renate Weber, Sarah Ludford, Jan Mulder, Louis Michel, Nathalie Griesbeck, Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, Nadja Hirsch, Stanimir Ilchev and Jens Rohde, on behalf of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (O-000194/2011 – B7-0434/2011).

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei, author. – (RO) Mr President, we have wanted and now we have for the first time an anti-corruption mechanism in the European Union. It is ours, which means that we should support and apply it rigorously in every Member State. We need it to get us out of the economic and financial crisis, and the crisis of confidence.

The major corruption scandals in recent years and the debt crisis which has affected Member States have heightened the feelings of distrust among European citizens. European citizens who abide by the law and pay their taxes in my country, Romania, and in all the Member States must be certain that the money is not being poured into corruption, fraud and other types of abuse, particularly now when we have and are debating a variety of forms of financial assistance in the EU.

European citizens must be certain that anyone breaking the law is punished in every Member State, that money obtained illegally is confiscated and added to the public budget, and that there are fair, clear and minimal definitions and rules for punishing corruption and fraud.

Confidence in institutions, the justice system, financial systems and the political class is absolutely crucial for the EU’s unity. When we call for solidarity we must offer trust. This was the vision of the EU’s founders. This is why we urgently need to apply this mechanism and ask Member States to show honesty and rigour in applying it.

Reporting and verifying anti-corruption measures must begin with public procurement transactions, the justice system, fiscal agencies, political party funding and confiscating money and assets obtained illegally. We call on the Commission to make the battle against corruption a priority as part of the security agenda and provide financial and human resources. We should also remember when we are discussing the budget that this must be compared at least to the figure of approximately EUR 120 billion, which is lost to corruption every year in the Union.

We support this mechanism and thank the Commission and, in the main, Commissioner Malmström for the anti-corruption package adopted in June.

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong, author. (NL) Mr President, Commissioner, we are in the midst of a euro crisis, a crisis that was obviously caused, first and foremost, by the irresponsible behaviour of financial institutions, but there were structural causes, as well. The extent of economic development varies quite substantially from one European country to another. This is not just a question of different levels of innovation and productivity; it is quite apparent that corruption is a huge problem in all of the Member States which are struggling.

As a group of like-minded MEPs, we have had an excellent dialogue with Commissioner Malmström about the urgency of combating corruption. I wish to thank her for that and for her proposals in this area, which I very much welcome. However, as far as current events are concerned, could the Commissioner tell me what role she is playing in discussions about saving countries like Greece? Has a master plan been developed for stamping out corruption, not only in this country, but also, for example, in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy? Or are we, in practice, continuing to pay lip service to this policy area? My perception is that Commissioner Malmström is playing a leading role in the negotiations on support for euro area countries that land in trouble and where corruption is a major problem.

Let me sum this up, once again: corruption hampers the operation of an effective and fair tax system and gives rise to an informal economy which fails to contribute to the public purse or, thereby, to the common good. Public services, such as health care and education, are not accessible to all if there is corruption in those sectors and, thus, it is much more difficult to set up a knowledge-based economy. I would like the Commissioner to tell us which specific plans are currently in play for combating corruption in the weak euro area countries.

Finally, another question to the Commission, also an urgent one. What is the situation as regards the Commission’s report under the UN Convention against Corruption? The Commission should set an example to the Member States here. Do you still have internal coordination problems or is this being efficiently addressed? Despite these comments, I, in any case, wish to support Commissioner Malmström’s policy wholeheartedly and I have every confidence that she will also play an important role in the areas I have mentioned.

 
  
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  Jan Philipp Albrecht , author. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, today we are debating the matter of combating corruption. We have already made it clear on many occasions that all sides of this House consider this matter to be extremely important and that the European Union must be active when it comes to making the combating of corruption the focus once again of internal security and cooperation in policing and judicial matters. I believe that it is important to treat this as a priority.

For us, that means that it is not only a question of taking appropriate measures in order finally to implement the existing agreements efficiently and effectively, but it is also a matter of finding resources, including financial resources, and utilising these resources to combat corruption in the European Member States. There is still work to be done in this regard, and it would actually be the order of the day to once again direct our overall priorities in the combating of organised crime at such areas as corruption and to concern ourselves less now with the areas in which we have already invested a great deal of energy in recent years.

I think it is important to take up this initiative of the European Parliament and to take appropriate measures. In my opinion, however, the most important thing in this regard is to make it clear to the Member States that it is also their job now to put forward appropriate proposals. In this respect, we are, of course, also relying on you as Commissioner to highlight where action is needed and to make it clear to the Member States that we want to see results, and we want to see progress in the combating of corruption and the combating of organised crime as a whole.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes, author. – (PT) Mr President, the supplying of German-manufactured submarines to Portugal and Greece is a glaring example of the web of corruption operating at European level and that has contributed not only to the violation of internal market rules, but also to the public finance crisis in the two latter countries. This proves that effective measures need to be taken urgently to combat corruption at European level.

The crisis that we are facing, and the onerous sacrifices that we are demanding of the public as a result, particularly in countries subject to financial bailout programmes, requires a serious effort, at national and European level, to combat corruption, fraud, tax evasion, and the impunity of those who are corrupt and those who corrupt others. The Commission and the Council therefore need to recognise that the memoranda of understanding concluded with Portugal, Ireland and Greece for financial assistance present numerous opportunities for corruption, especially as regards privatisation, and the renegotiation of public-private partnerships.

The European Commission therefore has a particular responsibility to give visibility to the fight against corruption, and to prioritise this struggle through such programmes, specifically for countries undergoing financial bailout programmes, but also in general, because it weighs heavy on these countries’ budgets, on the pockets of the taxpayers, on the workings of companies and the internal market, on mutual trust between the Member States, and on public confidence in the European Union itself.

The Commission urgently needs to make progress with harmonising measures to protect those who blow the whistle on crimes of corruption, and with criminalising illicit enrichment in all the Member States, in line with the recommendations of the United Nations (UN) Convention against Corruption. At European level, we need to impose transparency and checks on financial transactions, especially for tax havens both inside and outside the EU, and European cooperation in the negotiation of agreements with offshore jurisdictions, in order to ensure information sharing,

The Commission and Eurojust should create faster and more efficient mechanisms for judicial cooperation, in order to ensure that Member States exchange evidence, documents and information, thus speeding up the processing of cases under investigation or at the trial stage, so as to ensure that the corrupt and the corrupters are actually punished. In saying this, I am referring to the ineffective and time-consuming way in which judicial cooperation between Portugal and Germany has taken place in the investigation into corruption in the case of the German submarines sold to Portugal.

This Commission communication is welcome, but it must be translated into practical measures immediately, as recommended by Parliament in the resolution under consideration.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope, author. Mr President, one of the words so often associated with the EU, rightly or wrongly, is that it is corrupt. In this Chamber we all know this is a sweeping generalisation, yet we can and should do more to deal with corrupt abuses of EU money.

I welcome action by the Commission and its use of a series of measures that tackle corruption both in the public and the private sphere. However, before we here pass legislation affecting the activities of our citizens, we need to begin by getting our own House in order and securing finally a positive statement of assurance on the EU’s accounts.

We all recall the debates surrounding the interinstitutional agreement attached to the last Multiannual Financial Framework. In the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Council gave a commitment that Member States would self-certify the money they spend on behalf of the EU, which is something like 80% of the EU budget yet, as we near the end of this MFF, we have still to see that promise fully implemented across the EU.

Therefore, I ask the Council and Commission for a firm statement today that they will step up their demands on Member States to provide full and proper self-certification of all EU monies, which hopefully would go a long way towards alleviating auditors’ concerns. Of course, we also need to see more naming and shaming of countries that fail to stamp out corrupt practices.

It was the involvement of this Parliament which forced the inclusion of self-certification in the IIA, and I hope this institution will have a continuing role to play in ensuring that the anti-corruption package really bites.

If the EU economy was a body, then corruption would be deemed a disease. We must control that disease at all times – but particularly when the economic body is weak – so that it cannot be allowed to spread, causing further, possibly irreparable, damage.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano, author. (IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I have studied the anti-corruption package presented by the Commission in June extremely carefully, and I have to say that I am impressed with the content of the package. It is a good starting point, and all the European institutions, especially the European Parliament, must strive to achieve real, measurable results quickly.

Today corruption is the main route by which organised crime penetrates the legal economy and the public sector. Corruption creates criminal systems, and dangerous connections between entrepreneurs, politicians and public officials. It is estimated that the cost of corruption in Europe is some EUR 120 billion. I have to say that this is a conservative estimate given that in my country, Italy, alone, corruption accounts for EUR 60 billion a year, practically the amount of a financial package that at the moment would save my country from default.

With regard to the June communication and the proposals presented, I would like to ask the Commission what measures it intends to propose to improve the fight against corruption in the private sector. Can it give us some details about how it intends to improve financial investigations? What measures does it intend to propose to combat political corruption, and what point have the assessments of the review of the tender directive to combat conflicts of interest and of the draft directive for regulating concessions reached?

As Mr Albrecht has already said, this Parliament and these institutions have already been working on equally important problems, such as terrorism, for some time. This directive, the directive on corruption, gives ample space and visibility, and above all it gives us the chance to consider and to understand once and for all the extent to which organised crime is firmly entrenched in all 27 Member States.

In any case, Commissioner, this is what you said exactly one year ago, and these answers are crucial for us, especially considering the fact that in a month’s time we will be voting on the report on organised crime in Europe, for which I am the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Jerzy Miller, President-in-Office of the Council.(PL) Mr President, Commissioner, honourable Members, the Council is aware of the dangers of corruption and its negative effects on the economic and social life of EU citizens. It is a phenomenon that is systematically undermining citizens’ confidence in public institutions. In view of the above, the Council is happy to take on board any initiatives which serve to combat instances of corruption, and expresses its wish to actively support any action which aims to eliminate the problem in the public as well as the private sector.

In this context we should recall the provisions of the Stockholm Programme, which call for intensified action to combat corruption, inter alia by increasing coordination among Member States within the framework of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is also worth recalling the proposal for the European Union to join GRECO, a proposal which should be adopted in the future by EU Member States in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

In addition, within its internal security strategy and relating to matters of Justice and Home Affairs, the Council has referred to corruption as one of the challenges to the internal security of the European Union, awaiting further action at EU level. In this context I would like to express my admiration for the Commission for accepting an anti-corruption package, primarily for its decision to create an EU anti-corruption reporting mechanism. There must be no doubt regarding the EU’s clear political will in its fight against corruption.

Adopting the report on combating corruption in the EU follows on from the assumption that even though there is no universal solution to the problem of corruption, the problem is common to all the Member States of the European Union. As a result of periodic assessments and the publication of objective reports supported by facts, a new instrument is coming into force which gives the Member States an additional incentive to solve the problem of corruption effectively, particularly by introducing and enforcing agreed international standards in the fight against corruption.

The reporting mechanism, which is equally binding on all Member States, will ensure a transparent review is carried out of the functioning and efficiency of anti-corruption activities in the European Union and help to identify specific reasons for corruption, thus creating the basis for preparation of future policy and action by the EU to improve matters.The Council sees the new mechanism as another step in the direction of greater transparency in this sphere. It should encourage the Member States to ratify or successfully implement any important international instruments in this area.

In view of this, it seems right to test the potential of implementing the existing EU legal anti-corruption framework, particularly in the light of the possibilities offered by the Treaty of Lisbon. The Council will fully support rapid progress in negotiations on finding an acceptable solution to the European Union’s participation in GRECO. At the moment, we are awaiting the Commission’s proposals on negotiating directives in this area.

Regarding the role of the European Parliament, I would like to emphasise the Council’s obligation to ensure that Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is fully respected. The Council is convinced that the development as well as the implementation of a comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy will only be possible if there is constructive cooperation between all EU institutions in order to strengthen interinstitutional dialogue and coordination, at the same time respecting each institution’s rights as defined in the Treaties. Parliament has an important role to play in this field. Relations between the European Parliament and civil society, businesses and citizens affected by the plague of corruption contribute to the fact that the Council will cooperate with Parliament as a partner in our obligation to combat corruption.

In addition, in accordance with Article 218(10) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament will be informed immediately and comprehensively of every step of negotiations with international organisations. It should be remembered that criminal corruption repeatedly takes on an international dimension. The relationship of many people with financial institutions is based on mutual benefits resulting from their influence on key political and economic decisions. However, they threaten democratic institutions and procedures and hinder the investigation of corrupt practices. This is why a common anti-corruption policy is essential in order to combat the disease of corruption effectively.

Once again, I would like to stress that the Council is fully prepared to consider any initiative which the Commission regards as appropriate in order to further strengthen EU anti-corruption policy if its adoption is essential and in accordance with established procedures applied in the European Union’ legislative process.

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. Mr President, thank you for this chance to discuss corruption. I will try to answer the whole battery of questions that the different groups have submitted to me.

I am proud that we adopted the anti-corruption package just before the summer. It is an important step towards setting out an anti-corruption policy at EU level, but we still have a lot of work to do. Let us face it: there are lots of rules, directives, regulations and international conventions, but what is lacking is not regulation: it is a commitment. It is a political will to have zero tolerance of corruption in all the Member States. That will does not exist to a sufficient degree.

For that reason, in the preparation of the anti-corruption report, the Commission will focus a great deal on the implementation and effectiveness of this. We will highlight in an objective manner the achievements, as well as the vulnerabilities, of the Member States’ anti-corruption efforts. We will focus on a number of cost-cutting issues of particular relevance at EU level, as well as issues that are specific to each Member State, which will be highlighted by country analysis and tailor-made recommendations. The effectiveness of the implementation will be assessed against a number of quantitative and qualitative indicators. We will collect and analyse information from various sources, building on the existing mechanism – GRECO, OECD, UNCAC, civil society and different networks.

We will be assisted in this work by a group of experts. This group will be set up by the Commission soon, following an open call procedure. We hope that we can include people from a variety of backgrounds – law enforcement, prevention of corruption, civil society, research, the private and public sectors, international organisations, etc. There will also be a network of local research correspondents consisting of representatives of civil society and academia. The Commission is planning to adopt the decision to set up the framework for the work of this expert group by the autumn, so that experts can be selected and start work as soon as possible. I know that you are expecting us to come up with the report next year, but I must tell you that it is not possible to produce a thorough, high-quality report before 2013.

We have analysed the option of bringing forward a legislative proposal under Article 83 of the Treaty, as you have mentioned. This could be an option in the long run, but for the moment we need to focus on implementation. That is why a legislative solution would be premature. Compared to other policy areas in which we have taken legal initiatives, we know relatively little about the extent and the implications of this issue. Long and intensive evidence-gathering, careful comparison with existing legal documents, and thorough analysis of the potential impact of a legislative solution would be needed to agree on common definitions and minimum sanctions. Also, as you have acknowledged, the main problem with anti-corruption policy is uneven implementation. Minimum standards on anti-corruption policies have already been defined through international instruments, but effective results are still missing and this is due to the lack of political will.

As part of the package, the Commission also adopted a report on the implementation of the framework decision from 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector. That report indicates that the quality of transposition remained uneven, notably as regards criminalisation of all elements of active and passive bribery and reliability of legal persons. Moreover, even for those Member States who had transposed such provisions, the information on the actual track record is rather scarce.

The Commission will therefore continue to work with Member States on improving enforcement and will monitor further progress. As regards other key international anti-corruption instruments such as the UNCAC, the two Council of Europe conventions and the OECD anti-bribery convention, they all have a dedicated monitoring mechanism and we will seek synergies and cooperate with them.

Regarding all the other international instruments – and you are aware of them – there are differences in implementation. Some Member States have not ratified and some have. In this context we have called upon the Member States to ratify the legal instruments without further delay, and we will keep on monitoring this in the report, calling upon Member States to do the necessary ratification. This will be monitored in the anti-corruption report, in the tailor-made individual recommendations to Member States. That report should therefore try to generate additional political commitment to ensure compliance with EU and international commitments. We are presently not intending to submit draft conclusions to the Council, as these matters have been addressed through the recently adopted anti-corruption package.

The report will be equally applicable to all 27 Member States. The specific circumstances of each Member State will be considered in the country analysis and the shortcomings found will subsequently be reflected in the tailor-made recommendations, but we do not intend to set up flying squads to send to Member States.

The contact-point network against corruption will be a very valuable resource for us, but more needs to be done in terms of specific deliverables and the focus of the EU contact-point network against corruption. We are intending to work closely with that network. We do not include in this any specific provisions on transparency, but of course transparency and accountability are, and will remain, key guiding principles when we adopt legislation.

Finally, I would like to stress once more – just as I did in the contacts we had before this report was prepared – that I really appreciate Parliament’s support, as well as the pressure that it is bringing to bear on the Commission and the Member States. Only by continuing this pressure will we achieve results. Your commitment and your recommendations, as published today and in the future, will be considered by the Commission. I will do my utmost to include them in further work. I make a commitment to you that I will keep you informed of all these steps.

 
  
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  Simon Busuttil, on behalf of the PPE Group. (MT) Mr President, corruption is a serious issue for many Europeans. It is said to cost Europe around EUR 120 billion a year. That is almost the equivalent of the annual EU budget. Therefore, there is no doubt that we must step up our fight against corruption, not only in theory but also in practice. As Commissioner Malmström just said, we must show “zero tolerance” towards corruption.

We, as MEPs, have a role to play, and the EU can take action. After all corruption goes against basic European values. It has no limits and no borders. It can move from one part of Europe to another, and it can spread rapidly. Until now Europe has lacked the necessary instruments to fight this phenomenon effectively. This is why we are discussing this issue here today, to kickstart and instigate action which can help decrease this phenomenon by means of European instruments. In the resolution we presented and on which we are voting tomorrow, we are agreeing on the package of initiatives presented by the Commission earlier this year, for which I would like to thank Commissioner Malmström. At the same time, we are telling the Commission to make sure that Member States implement existing laws against corruption, their international commitments and national legislation. Above all, we are calling on the EU and the Member States to be more transparent, to introduce measures which fight conflict of interest and to take steps to keep an eye on those sectors where corruption is especially problematic. This debate is merely the beginning. It shall continue within the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and within the part-sessions, to make sure that the fight against corruption becomes a European priority.

 
  
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  Claude Moraes, on behalf of the S&D Group. Mr President, there are in the Chamber today, I noticed while the debate was going on, many Members who have given literally most of their professional lives to tackling corruption.

What they want to see, and certainly what my Group wants to see, is some definition and highlighting of how exactly we will implement many of the elements of the package which, of course, we welcome.

Corruption is such a catch-all term that we must take the opportunity in this resolution to define and highlight what we can do and to be honest about what we cannot achieve. That is what people want in this Chamber today.

I welcome very much what the Commission has said, but I must say that the lack of transparency and the poor quality of transposition – as somebody who is near to this subject – is something which is very disturbing.

What we must do, and I know the Commission wants to do this, is define the immediate priorities. The Commissioner said we have to wait until 2013, but one idea we have had is that we may want to carry out interim anti-corruption reports before 2013.

I only say this because at a time of austerity, at a time when citizens want us to visibly fight corruption in the Union, perhaps this would send a signal that this is an immediate priority for us in the European Union.

Corruption is, of course, a cross-border issue which needs to be taken seriously by every EU Member State. It therefore needs tough legislation and effective evaluation mechanisms at EU level.

The Council and Member States must also fully implement the existing 1995 and 1997 EU Conventions.

One way we can make progress is to take the general approach of prioritising our fight within the context of our security agenda for years to come.

I notice I am over time, so I will just finally say that the various elements of this resolution are important, but the prioritising of those elements is important.

 
  
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  Renate Weber, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, the ALDE Group welcomes the determination of the European Commission to promote transparency and fight corruption across the European Union.

Since corruption is a contagious disease that rapidly transforms itself into a structural epidemic, it has to be addressed by all possible means, from full transparency to harsh sanctions.

The current economic, social and, indeed, political crisis has at its origins years of misconduct, or even offences, which some government or private actors committed but were never punished for. Now the price is being paid not by those directly responsible, but by all EU citizens.

At such times I believe we must focus not so much on past achievements as on the things that still need to be done.

We should not turn a blind eye to our own practices. In March this year, the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians against Corruption stated in a resolution that we have a responsibility to strengthen the confidence of the citizens we represent. In order to do so, we all, regardless of the countries we come from, have to be much more transparent when it comes to our own activities and the financial resources we handle. We need better rules on conflicts of interest and thorough implementation of these rules.

Codes of conduct with a clear and strict definition of conflicts of interest must be drawn up by all EU institutions, EU agencies and Member State governments and public agencies alike.

We, as politicians, must set an example. Therefore, we must take action to fight corruption and prevent it from infiltrating politics by means of strict rules on the financing of political parties and electoral campaigns in all EU Member States.

European citizens placed their trust in us by electing us to represent them; we have no right to betray that trust.

 
  
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  Zbigniew Ziobro, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Mr President, this morning, the Polish Minister of Finance appeared before Parliament to comment on the crisis in the euro area, and in his impassioned speech he presented a vision of war which could be brought about by the crisis in Europe.He provoked consternation and bewilderment in many of the MEPs present. These thoughtless words require an apology from me, as a Polish MEP. It would have been better if the Minister of Finance had presented specific proposals for improving the situation in the euro area or supported the fight against corruption rather than talking about war and spreading horrific visions.

When I was the Prosecutor General in the previous government, we took numerous measures in our fight against corruption. We showed great determination. However, the same cannot be said of Mr Rostowski’s government. That determination is no longer apparent. However, those people and officials who fought against corruption are now being systematically prosecuted. It is with great pleasure that I accept the European Commission’s initiative on limiting corruption. However, this can only take place if individual countries are genuinely determined to limit this disease.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (PPE). - Mr President, I want to ask Mr Ziobro whether he thinks that this debate is just continuing the election debate that is currently going on in Poland. That national debate does not have much to do with the report and the Commission’s efforts. I do not think it is very proper to bring up the euro crisis in this debate.

 
  
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  Zbigniew Ziobro (ECR).(PL) Mr President, I would like to thank Ms Kolarska-Bobińska very much for her question, but as we are all too aware this debate concerns a very important issue, that of corruption, just as this morning’s debate at the European Parliament concerned an equally important issue, the crisis in the euro area, and that is why both now and previously we expected and are still expecting sensible speeches, not about war, not scaremongering, but concrete proposals which will serve to resolve the crisis in the euro area.

At the same time, as far as corruption is concerned we must do all we can to limit this dysfunctional state which has brought so much evil to Europe and to Poland as well. Equally, I hope that we can express ourselves as one, showing determination and consistency and that we do not just utter empty words.

 
  
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  Martin Ehrenhauser (NI).(DE) Mr President, I know from personal experience how important real whistle-blower protection can be in combating corruption. It includes, firstly, a detailed definition of the concept, secondly, specific rights and obligations, thirdly, precise handling deadlines, fourthly, a right to a hearing and information, fifthly, specific training for EU officials and, sixthly, an independent point of contact that will explain the options while preserving anonymity.

Articles 22a and 22b of the EU Staff Regulations do not meet these criteria. In fact, in the EU institutions we do not have any real whistle-blower protection. What we do have, however, is an imminent reform of the EU Staff Regulations, and that is a huge opportunity. Therefore, my question to the Commission and the Council is this: are you willing now to reform Articles 22a and 22b? Are you prepared now to table a fitting and appropriate proposal in this regard?

 
  
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  Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra (PPE). (ES) Mr President, corruption costs the European Union the same amount as its annual budget. Four out of every five citizens consider corruption to be one of the biggest problems for Member States.

On 6 June 2011, the Commission published the package of measures aimed at fighting corruption. That is commendable. These measures include the introduction of updated EU rules on public procurement, rules on auditing and regulatory monitoring of EU companies, development of a biannual report that identifies corruption trends, measures relating to the confiscation of criminal assets, a strategy to improve research on financial crime, and the action plan for improving statistics on corruption offences.

These proposals are warmly welcomed. Nevertheless, we need to show caution with regard to Member States’ individual compliance with implementation, especially when we consider the data provided by the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to which 12 out of the 27 EU Member States have no anti-corruption rules or have minimal, insufficient standards.

That is why we have doubts about the Commission’s real capacity – despite its best intentions – to implement the measures it has proposed; it therefore needs to go further, guaranteeing that all the Member States make a real commitment to combating corruption, for this is of great necessity, above and beyond expert groups, political will or generalities.

We call for specific, legally-binding actions. That is what we are asking for.

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D).(ES) Mr President, I shall use my time to express my wholehearted support for the adoption of this resolution.

Parliament is right to support the work that the Council has carried out in the past, and now the Commission’s work, by promoting this important anti-corruption package, because Parliament is right to take seriously Article 67 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states that there is a mandate for the approximation of criminal laws to combat transnational organised crime; and Article 83, which states that corruption is a very serious and clear example of transnational organised crime of economic significance – not only in times of crisis, although that is also the case, especially in the current crisis, because it totals an amount equal to 1% of the European Union’s GDP (shown to be EUR 120 million) – but also of political significance, because corruption undermines the precious relationship of trust between leaders and the electorate, between representatives and those represented, and between politicians and the public. Corruption is currently doing unquantifiable damage to the public’s faith in European Union politics.

Therefore, taking the fight against corruption seriously means reminding Member States that have not yet signed the Council of Europe criminal and civil law conventions on corruption that they should do so; it means remembering that some Member States have still not standardised their legislation and penal system or their system for the prosecution of corruption; and it also means saying very clearly to our citizens that we are serious about re-establishing democratic politics and citizenship through the fight against corruption.

 
  
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  Stanimir Ilchev (ALDE).(BG) Mr President, the package of anti-corruption measures adopted by the Commission on 6 June this year is pragmatic and sound. This means that we are about to abandon a superficial and emotional attitude to the subject of corruption.

This package is impressive in promoting the ideas that legislation will become clearer and be applied more decisively, a monitoring mechanism will be created and that reports will be compiled every two years. In some countries, basic corruption models are still dealt with on a token basis. In order to overcome political demagoguery, we really need to be certain that the Commission will closely scrutinise every Member State so that it is sure that the legislative measures already adopted are being applied systematically, without any compromises.

Another very useful step will be to specify the actual definition of corruption because a symbiosis has occurred between Western market expansion and traditional Eastern culture. This symbiosis generates incredible ingenuity in terms of corrupt practices.

We also have to accept that greater transparency is an absolute must when we come up against a combination of corrupt motives, a conflict of interests and an unwieldy prosecution process. In such cases, it will be a good idea, Commissioner, for the Commission to gather an important body of evidence, highlighting the actions of individuals, corporate entities, parties and officials.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, it is estimated that corruption costs as much as EUR 120 billion a year in the EU, corresponding to around 1% of the GDP of the EU, in other words almost the entire annual budget. Particular attention should be paid in this regard to the bankrupt states. Sixty-three years ago, President Harry Truman – almost like a prophet – already saw that, in the same way as a rotten apple infects all the others in the basket, the Greek corruption can spread via Italy to ruin the whole of Europe.

How do things stand today? According to Transparency International, Greece is the front-runner when it comes to corruption. However, in order for the Commission’s measures not to remain toothless, the elements of the offence of corruption must be uniformly defined. We also need efficient and dissuasive sanction mechanisms, because otherwise the EU will indeed soon turn into a basket of rotten apples.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Martin Ehrenhauser (NI).(DE) Mr President, I just have one brief question: Mr Obermayr, do you believe that whistle-blowers play an important role in the combating of corruption? My second question is: if yes, what will you do to ensure that the EU institutions maintain adequate whistle-blower protection?

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, firstly, thank you for the question. Of course, it is important for those who help to establish clarity to receive appropriate protection. It must also be guaranteed that this role is appropriately safeguarded. You have already put forward a couple of proposals yourself for what steps should be taken. I believe that provisions also need to be enshrined in the Staff Regulations in this regard in order to give the officials the appropriate options.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE).(BG) Mr President, corruption is a problem about which we must speak out vociferously. It is a problem that is widespread throughout the whole of Europe and beyond its borders. Losses due to corruption amounting to EUR 120 billion bring us to the heart of the problem.

We are facing a common European challenge, requiring a common, sound, well-coordinated response. The only remedy to corrupt practices is transparent actions. This means showing transparency in that we acknowledge its existence, as well as transparency in the measures taken and transparency in the controls and sanctions which follow.

I will focus on four important aspects. Firstly, in order to define specifically the scope of this problem, independent, reliable indicators need to be found and used. They provide the foundation and must be applicable to all Member States. Secondly, it is important for European countries to share their experiences in combating corruption and for us to identify good practices. On this point, let us not be afraid to draw on the experience from the last countries to join the European Union, which are Bulgaria and Romania.

Thirdly, cooperation must be strengthened between the various national, European and international institutions involved in combating corruption. Let us show that Europe has the political will to tackle the problem. Let us use this opportunity to help our countries at a time of economic crisis to block the flow of resources from corruption.

Finally, concrete measures will send a strong message to Europe’s citizens and will help us overcome the crisis of confidence which is prevalent at the moment in and towards Europe. This is precisely what is making the European Parliament get involved as a guarantor of the ever-strengthening direct link with citizens in the fight against corruption.

 
  
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  Rita Borsellino (S&D).(IT) Mr President, Member of the Council, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I too would like to join my colleagues who have welcomed the anti-corruption package approved by the European Commission on 6 June. Corruption is a transnational phenomenon and European-wide measures are needed to fight it.

According to estimates from Eurobarometer, the vast majority of our European citizens believe that Europe should do more. How can we fault them? Many Member States have lacked the political will to fight corruption. One only has to consider that some European countries have still not signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

If we think of the devastating effect of corruption on democratic processes, citizens’ rights and confidence in the rule of law, it is clear that the national anti-corruption measures adopted by Member States to date are not sufficient to curb what is a growing problem. The European Union has to give a unified, strong response, especially now, in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, which is having an impact on people’s lives, on the survival of welfare and pension systems, and on the ability of institutions to guarantee essential services.

Each year corruption causes the loss of EUR 120 billion, the equivalent of 1% of the European Union GDP. Every day it siphons off resources belonging to the EU and to Member States that could be used to provide key services – education, children’s services, employment and transport. In other words it siphons off clean resources from services to support people.

We therefore need to be more courageous and more firm, both in overseeing the implementation of anti-corruption measures, and in intensifying and strengthening measures to combat corruption at EU level. More specifically, we cannot talk about combating corruption unless we are capable of adopting at least basic standards for defining the crime of corruption, which there is no trace of in the package just launched.

The same goes for the definition of standard parameters for measuring the extent of the problem in Member States, which is essential for preparing an adequate response. For example, we are in favour of relaunching the network of EU anti-corruption contact points, as I proposed in the resolution we will be voting on tomorrow.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I will be repeating points that have already been raised by my colleagues, and I am pleased that we are all clearly in agreement here. EUR 120 billion lost to corruption each year is too much, because it is a terrible strain on our economy: these are resources that are unjustly and unacceptably stolen from our society, our citizens and our businesses.

The results and data from Eurobarometer polls are also striking: they show that eight out of ten citizens feel that corruption is a truly serious problem and one which we must do more to tackle.

Thus, the priority is to adopt an EU-wide anti-fraud and anti-corruption strategy that will impose real obligations on the Member States to implement the anti-corruption package adopted by the Commission in June, for which I would like to congratulate Commissioner Malmström.

Collaboration between the Member States, Europol, Eurojust and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is equally important, precisely because it involves genuinely extensive cooperation aimed at punishing corruption-related crimes and also restoring a high level of transparency in financial transactions.

 
  
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  Rosario Crocetta (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Commissioner Malmström for having forcefully raised the issue of an anti-corruption package, however I must be honest. Those who, like me, live in a Mafia-controlled area and have also paid and continue to pay a terrible price for it, are not amongst those who are convinced that a magical law is all it takes to finally put a stop to corruption. This seems to be the main problem and cause of the state of emergency we currently find ourselves in.

Corruption is an ancient art, much older than the world itself, and has probably now become part and parcel of the way in which politics is done, not only in Italy, but in many other countries too. I strongly support what the Commissioner said: we must ensure that we fully emphasise the importance of this policy.

When considering how to combat corruption, we must start by asking ourselves how public procurement procedures are conducted; what the threshold is for cases in which a degree of discretion is allowed; whether or not a monitoring network exists to monitor, for example, whoever wins a contract; how people have accumulated their wealth; whether or not there are any rules for tracing money; and how we check whether politicians who have been found guilty have actually been sentenced and imprisoned, or ascertain whether they are still members of parliament, protected by their parties and the laws of their country.

We should start a revolution, so to speak; I personally would make the fight against corruption, the Mafia and organised crime the focus of this second half of the parliamentary term, in order to tell the Spanish ‘Indignados’ that we want a better Europe, a freer Europe, a more transparent Europe, and to tell the young people participating in the Arab Spring that we too want to change the world, and that we want to enact serious change. So, congratulations, Commissioner, but let us do more.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE).(PT) Mr President, Mr Miller, Commissioner Malmström, I also feel that there is a common cause in this debate, namely the fight against corruption, for the social, economic and political reasons that have already been mentioned here by Ms Macovei.

I believe that the finger has already been pointed at countries in this debate. I have also seen documents which mention Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Romania. However, the truth is that there is not a single country in the European Union that is not affected by the scourge of corruption. Several speakers have talked about the issue of cost. Indeed, it is shocking that the annual cost of corruption can be anything like the overall value of the EU budget.

I would therefore congratulate Commissioner Malmström on the anti-corruption package of 6 June, which I believe represents a step forward in the fight against corruption. I was very pleased to hear the Commissioner say that laws are not enough. What is needed is political will and zero tolerance. I was also glad to hear her say that it is important to single out Member States that are slower to transpose or implement these measures, and that this will be included in the reports. We know that sufficiently demanding legal frameworks are already in place, but the fact is that implementing them at Member State level is very different.

Finally, Commissioner, you are also correct when you say that it is necessary to maintain and improve police and judicial cooperation, to which I would add that there is also a need to make the European agencies work together towards this.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D).(RO) Mr President, Commissioner, I would like to congratulate you on this package of laws. In fact, when we talk about the battle against corruption, we need to speak about democracy in the relevant state, about public procurements and about transparency in the spending of public money. We must automatically talk about public-private partnerships, depoliticising the national management authorities when we are talking about European funds, the independence of the judiciary and depoliticising the control bodies in the relevant state.

Commissioner, when you are looking for support in the Council, I want you to bear in mind an extremely important point. From the president to the last member of the government, it is not fighting corruption that is a national policy in Romania, but corruption itself.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE).(EL) Mr President, we have heard a lot of interesting points today in this debate. However, there is one other point that needs to be made. Corruption among government officials is not an issue that can be addressed solely with sanctions on governments and Member States. As they say, it takes two to tango. On the one hand, there is the government official who is being bribed, who takes the bribe, the illegal commission; on the other hand, however, there is the person, the individual or, more often, the stakeholder or company offering the bribe.

Legislative and political initiatives by the Union should therefore pay equal attention to imposing sanctions both on the Member States and on those involved one way or another in bribery cases. There should be no immunity from fraud at any level. National economies, which have no money to spare, are being deprived of the EUR 120 billion lost in the European Union every year due to corruption.

As the subject of today’s debate is closing the gap between law and reality, the first thing we should look at is how we can close the legislative loopholes in numerous Member States once and for all and how, at the same time, we can provide every European citizen with appropriate instruments for reporting corruption directly, easily and securely.

 
  
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  Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (PPE).(PL) Mr President, Commissioner, we must fight corruption on many levels at the same time, at the European, national and local level. That is why the Commission’s statement is so important: it will expedite measures to fight corruption. I am very pleased that the Commission has presented an anti-corruption package, especially since it emphasises the monitoring of this phenomenon and above all stresses the proper implementation of legal instruments already in existence.

As we know, one of the problems of the European Union is that we do not implement EU legislation to its full extent. At the same time, and this is something which seems very important to me, we should not even be satisfied with this existing legislation. We need new instruments and policies which will continue to fight corruption. This is what we have done today in voting for a regulation for monitoring the energy market. The aim of these regulations was greater transparency and responsibility, which are key in the fight against corruption, particularly on the energy market. I would like to emphasise that we must also fight against corruption in separate policies for individual sectors, and not just speak in general terms about introducing certain instruments. This is possible as we can see from the Commission’s example.

 
  
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  Marietta Giannakou (PPE).(EL) Mr President, the package presented by the European Commission is important, as is the fact that the Council and Commission are addressing this issue in a concerted manner. Corruption is, of course, an international threat to the security of Europe and to the security of the Member States. In reality, apart from corruption at political level, there is currently a great deal of corruption at other levels, such as cyberspace, which are used by organisations to the extent that their prosecutors and the police authorities are always one step behind. There is also a connection here with democratic procedures, in that there are people with a great deal of money who can influence the functioning of democracy and we do not know where their money comes from or, often, who they are.

Times are therefore such that we need to take coordinated action. That does not mean that we are optimistic that all this can be resolved, because all the things to which we are well disposed – the open borders, freedom of movement, the Internet and so forth – are, of course, basically a convenience for the corrupt. Drugs and arms smugglers, in particular, criss-cross the whole of Europe building up huge empires. As you know, even smuggled cigarettes are as expensive as normal cigarettes.

However, a coordinated step-by-step approach which properly monitors and helps to wake up national governments and allows the European Commission to put pressure on national governments to take action is, I think, the best we can start doing at present.

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE). - (SL) Mr President, Commissioner Malmström, if 78% of Europeans would like to see ... demand a more effective fight against corruption and if this fight costs European taxpayers at least EUR 120 billion, then it is clear that we have not been successful at fighting corruption at a European Union level.

Of course, I would like to welcome the measures, – the package of measures, rather – that have been prepared by the European Commission this summer to fight corruption, but this does not go nearly far enough. There are not enough mechanisms for reporting corruption to the European Union. It is not a substantial measure. What we need in the European Union is a common authority that will prosecute corruption and fight organised crime.

There is, therefore, no urgency for us the European Union to join GRECO, which functions within the Council of Europe and is responsible for the fight against corruption or, rather, for coordinating the efforts of Member States in this regard. We need our own institutions of this nature and that means undergoing structural reforms, and not just drafting legislation.

I know that there are problems. There is not enough political will. Some Member States have not yet signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption, there is not enough of an administrative, political or business culture, particularly in the new Member States, some new Member States. I am also aware that we even have different concepts and different definitions of corruption.

Nevertheless, I think that these problems can be overcome in the future and I would like to emphasise that we are only at the very beginning of organised combat against corruption and organised crime.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that this package is an important piece of the jigsaw, but it still needs to be implemented in practice. Anti-fraud and anti-corruption strategies are part of a package which must put a firm stop to the rampant growth of this problem affecting all the Member States.

While greater cooperation is necessary between Member States, what we need above all is a shake-up of public procurement procedures, because although it is true that this is a problem that concerns the private sector, there is no doubt that the public sector is particularly affected by it, too.

We must protect honest business owners and citizens and instead punish those who fraudulently breach market regulations and the ground rules, in order to protect the licit economy. This must be achieved with political will, as Commissioner Malmström stated, and by a package that must be applied to individual Member States, too, because, if the legislation is to be implemented in practice, as indeed it must be, then the Member States still have a lot of work to do.

We need tough, consistent and bold penalties that result in powerful and, why not, innovative measures against organised crime in the most significant cases; I refer in particular to seizure and confiscation. These are concrete measures that will probably ensure the zero tolerance to which Commissioner Malmström rightly referred.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, more than 70% of European citizens regard corruption as a major problem in their own country, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll. It is therefore our duty to take the appropriate measures to address these concerns. This means that not only is a united approach required at EU level, but also sustained political commitment. I welcome the general anticorruption package presented by the European Commission, as well as the resolution introduced by my colleague Ms Macovei.

In Romania, a lack of knowledge of procedures has resulted in a series of irregularities in the management of European funds. This is why I think that, apart from the monitoring and assessment measures, particular attention needs to be given not only to selecting and training officials, but also to informing the public, especially at local level.

I hope that the general anticorruption report submitted by the Commission in 2013 will be objective and identify best practices for fighting corruption.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, corruption is a serious problem in modern democratic society. Although the European Union has made great efforts to create measures and legislation to counter this adverse phenomenon, several Member States have been dragging their feet in their implementation. At a time when the representatives of the Fair Play Alliance confirmed that European anti-corruption legislation meets the required parameters, it is important to expend some effort on the promotion of its application. We must therefore focus more on the monitoring mechanisms of independent experts and civic organisations so that that their work might contribute to the uncovering of alleged corruption and the better application of existing regulations. We should also strive to accelerate the investigation process and provide better protection for whistle-blowers. It would also be good to harmonise penalties for corruption carried out by foreign nationals across the EU. I firmly believe that it is only through peaceful, patient and systematic work that we can be successful in this endeavour.

 
  
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  Eduard Kukan (PPE). (SK) Mr President, I believe that the European Commission's package of measures to fight corruption will become an effective instrument in this fight. If four out of five EU citizens regard corruption as one of the most serious problems, as already mentioned by several colleagues, we must act decisively. Such perceptions of reality require a clear response, the restoration of confidence in the transparency of institutions and a strong political commitment on our part. The Union must make the fight against corruption one of its political priorities towards the Member States, as well as in relation to other countries. This applies especially to all the candidate countries: here the European Union must act more vigorously and require concrete results. For future Member States it should be our priority to do the utmost to suppress corrupt practices before their accession to the European Union. Candidate countries for membership must have a clear position and show the results of the implementation of national anti-corruption policies. The fight against corruption must therefore be an integral part of both our internal and also external policy.

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. Mr President, thank you to those of you who are left. I think it has been a most useful debate and it shows that we are taking seriously the concerns of citizens, to which many of you have referred. The vast majority of our citizens are very concerned about corruption and want Europe to act more in this regard. As many of you have also said, there are clear links between corruption and organised crime; there are huge amounts of money involved – taxpayers’ money, citizens’ money – that could be used for other things, especially in these times of austerity. Corruption also erodes the legitimacy of the political system of all of us, of our authorities and of our public institutions, and that is devastating for a democracy. Corruption is also therefore a threat to our democracy.

We have to remind many of our political leaders that they actually ran for election on a non-corruption agenda. I think it is time to deliver on that right now because, as I have said and many of you have repeated, it is not lack of legislation that is the problem: it is lack of implementation and it is lack of political will.

The Commission is of course not the police. We cannot send anti-corruption squads to different Member States, but we can work with the existing networks, with civil society, with Europol, with Eurojust, with the Experts’ Group that we will set up and the groups that already exist in Member States, in order to get a better picture of what needs to be done. We must push for implementation of what has been decided and ratification of international instruments.

I do not think we are in a position, Mr Moraes, to make an intermediate report, but we will not sit silent until 2013. We will have hearings, we will have seminars, we will have different activities, public consultations with all of you involved and we will try to develop those indicators, those definitions that are so important, yet very difficult, and that we need to get right. In all this, I would like to work very closely with the European Parliament.

The report is of course not a magic wand, but we can describe the state of play in the different Member States, we can identify shortcomings, we can make recommendations, and I would like very much to work on a thematic aspect. Public procurement would, of course, be one of the most prioritised themes that we would highlight.

We need to keep on pushing. Mr Ehrenhauser, I would like to say to you that protection of whistleblowers throughout the EU is very important and there is very uneven protection of whistleblowers in the Member States at present, and this is also something we need to look at.

There is a lot to do. One very important element is to keep the debate alive all the time, to keep on pushing, and I am looking forward to working with all of you in this very important area.

 
  
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  Jerzy Miller, President-in-Office of the Council.(PL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, you have had a very interesting debate which confirms the importance of the issue we have discussed today, not only on a financial level but above all on something which I think is much more important – a loss of trust between those in government and the citizens. This trust is something which is essential in order to have any real influence on public life, not only through the force of law, but above all by applying that law.

On two occasions I stressed the need for transparency in areas particularly susceptible to corruption. If we spread ourselves over too many areas we will probably be much less effective. We should focus on what clearly emerged from the first report on the dominant areas – not only dominant from a subjective point of view, but also in the opinion of experts and scientists, presented in a measured and standardised way – comparing Member States in selected areas susceptible to corruption.

Now for the matter of implementing anti-corruption legislation. It really is shameful that some Member States are delaying its introduction and the Council should certainly bring to their attention the necessity of completing their work in this area. However, on the other hand I am a realist, and the introduction of European legislation into national law will not solve the problem. The solution is to be found in the effective appliction of this legislation. We know from the indicators we currently use that sometimes countries which have introduced the full range of legislation are not at all safe from the disease of corruption. Effective application of the law, including in the dimension of international cooperation, both among police forces and judicial systems, are essential if we are to make any significant progress.

Concerning transparency of sanctions, if we are not equally transparent in enforcing the consequences of breaches of the law on corruption, any dialogue between those in government and the citizens will be incomplete.

There is one more very important matter: sharing good practice amongst Member States. Corruption is not equally severe in different areas of the European Union and this is why it is possible to transfer good practice from one country to another; it is just a question of perseverance and consistency.

The final matter which I stressed was that of the confiscation of property acquired through corruption. This matter, which relates not only to corruption but also to other forms of organised crime, is also not a strong point among Member States, and it is well-known that this delay in something which was expected a lot sooner is still causing a lot of debate.

To sum up, the Council will attempt to mobilise those Member States which have delays in their legislative procedures to make up the time and, by sharing common achievements, to reduce the level of corruption, especially in those areas which are particularly susceptible.

 
  
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  President. − To conclude the debate I have received one motion for a resolution(1) pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Vladimír Maňka (S&D), in writing. − (SK) Corruption is one of the trans-national threats that continue to challenge the internal security of the Union. The results of corruption has implications across and beyond EU borders.

Four out of five EU citizens regard corruption as a serious problem in their country.

Corruption costs us an estimated EUR 120 billion per year, representing one percent of the EU GDP.

It undermines the rule of law, distorts the market and plays a role in the current economic crisis.

All EU institutions, EU agencies and Member States should ensure more transparency.

Commission and Eurojust should ensure a more efficient and speedy exchange of documents and information between national courts on corruption cases with a cross-border dimension.

The Commission must ensure policy coordination of the anti-corruption mechanism.

 
  

(1) See Minutes.

Last updated: 13 December 2011Legal notice