International Monetary Fund
As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met in Washington, Transparency International published, on 12 October, recommendations to strengthen the institution’s impact on the fight against corruption. The NGO advocates the inclusion of anti-corruption measures that can be measured and monitored in the IMF new set of governance guidance, which will be issued next year. It proposes the creation of a standardized questionnaire to ensure an equal evaluation across countries, and thus to help the IMF identify where a country needs further anti-corruption policy support. Moreover, Transparency International underlined that IMF country review reports should comprise an assessment of the anti-money laundering measures and that the transparency of Public Private Partnerships should be prioritized. A summary of these recommendations was handed to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF.
Council of Europe
On 10 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has unanimously adopted a heavily revised Code of Conduct for its members inspired by the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) issued in June 2017. The PACE crafted this revision in response to allegations of corruption in its ranks, with the aim of restoring public confidence in its work and creating a sound and coherent integrity framework. A few days earlier, on 6 October, the president of the assembly, Pedro Agramunt, resigned following such allegations.
The new rules provide for swift investigations into alleged ethical breaches by members and sanctions when wrongdoing takes place. Members must now pledge not to “promise, give, request or accept” any fee, compensation or reward in the course of their duties, and must declare any interests at the opening of each session. To increase transparency, these declarations must now be posted online. The new code also foresees the creation of a “transparency register” for lobbyist, and steps to guarantee that former members who engage in paid consultancy do not benefit from any special privileges.
At its 77th Plenary Meeting, from 16 to 18 October, the GRECO has adopted a series of decisions pertaining to evaluation and compliance procedures. In particular, the group has adopted the Fourth Round Evaluation Report on the Russian Federation and invited Russian authorities to authorize its publication.
Besides, from 26 to 27 October, the Council of Europe organized a work seminar for MPs from Italy, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. During this event, the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life presented the mechanisms for the prevention and management of conflicts of interest applicable to French MPs.
On 24 October, a report on the protection of whistleblowers, presented by French MEP Virginie Rozière (S&D), was adopted by the European Parliament. The vote was preceded by a minute of silence in tribute to Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was murdered on 16 October. The report calls on the European Commission to propose a law protecting whistleblowers, and give a wide definition for the term. The goal is to protect the action of whistleblowers in domains such as tax evasion, the fight against corruption, public health and the environment. Currently, only six states of the Union protect whistleblowers: the fragmentation and heterogeneity of national jurisdictions exacerbate the importance of ensuring protection at the European level. According to the report, all EU countries should also introduce clearer reporting mechanisms, establish measures of protection against retaliation, and provide whistleblowers with support, such as legal and financial assistance.
On the same day, Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor, told the website EUobserver that despite the rules governing access, information about MEP expenses may be granted in some cases. Transparency and data protection are not contradictory. According to the website, Buttarelli’s statement weakens the position of the European Parliament that invokes data protection to prevent a consortium of journalists from MEP expense reports. A first hearing about this request was held at the European Court of Justice, but question is far from settled.
Furthermore, while the European Union negotiated the renewal of the glyphosate’s license, plaintiffs and their lawyers in an ongoing U.S. lawsuit against Monsanto came to Brussels on 4 October. They accuse EU food safety agencies of “cherry-picking evidence” in glyphosate assessment. The methods of lobbying employed by the American agrochemical giant, exposed by the “Monsanto Papers”, were scrutinized by several European newspapers, including le Monde and Der Spiegel.
The Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC), a global network of civil society, governments, and expert, released the report « Unequal Exchange ». Composed of numerous analyses, open data and infographics, the report explores in-depth the different facets of the global fight against banking secrecy.