How much did the Greek Presidency of the EU do to fight corruption? Transparency International finds that while Greece gave the issue a high profile over a six month period, there was a collective failure on the part of national governments to show leadership on the EU’s anti-money-laundering regime.
The Transparency International EU Office and Transparency International Greece are today publishing a Presidency Scorecard evaluating the Council’s commitment to the anti-corruption and transparency agenda under the leadership of Greece in the first half of 2014. The Scorecard shows that despite the efforts of the Greek Presidency, progress by the Council in passing anti-corruption legislation and improving the transparency of EU decision-making remains limited. Notably, Member States missed an opportunity to unmask the corrupt and take firm action against secret company ownership. A Council decision in May means that there is no obligation to make public information about who owns and controls anonymous shell companies and trusts.
“The revision of the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering rules presents a major opportunity to clamp down on corruption,” said Carl Dolan, Director of the Transparency International EU Office. “Many EU countries continue to lack ambition to tackle secret ownership and risk creating new rules full of loopholes.”
The Greek Presidency did succeed in getting agreement on reforms for the financing of European political parties, made progress on establishing a European Public Prosecutor and finalised legislation that requires large European companies to publicly report on their anti-corruption programmes (although in considerably weaker form than the original Commission proposal). The overall record is mixed however.
Transparency International also regrets the fact that the Greek Presidency failed to publish any detailed information on the allocated Presidency budget, denying civil society and the general public the ability to hold it to account for its spending. While this lack of information should not be interpreted as evidence of corruption, it runs contrary to best practices in budget transparency and government accountability.
The Scorecard released today aims to shine a light on decision making in the EU Council. It is the result of a joint evaluation by the Transparency International EU Office and Transparency International Greece between January and June 2014. You can find the summary Scorecard here and a more in-depth version here.
Over the next 12 months Transparency International will continue to monitor how EU member states conduct their Presidencies and how they promote crucial anti-corruption legislation. TI EU will publish its findings every six months in the format of a Presidency Scorecard. The Scorecard for the Italian Presidency will be published in February 2015.