On 27 March, The OECD published a report “Trust and public policy: How Better Governance Can Help Rebuild Public Trust” (in English only). The report explores the link between trust and efficiency of public policies and provides measures that can be implemented to strengthen citizen’s confidence in their government.
The annual integrity and anticorruption Forum of the OECD will take place on 30 and 31 March. The theme of 2017 is “In Public interest: taking integrity to higher standards”. Ministers, international organizations representatives, private sector leaders and representatives from civil society will discuss during two days the cost of integrity breaches and corruption for societies and the necessity to control such phenomena.
On 2 March 2017, the GRECO released a report on transparency of party funding and criminalization of corruption in Czech Republic. If the report highlights progresses in terms of transparency of political funding, the GRECO regrets that recommendations addressed on criminalization of corruption have not been implemented.
On 10 March, the GRECO announced the launch of a fifth evaluation round during the plenary session in Strasbourg on 20 March 2017. The theme will be “Preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies”. This round will assess states on topics such as regulation of lobbying, control of revolving doors for high public officials, identification of functions peculiarly at risks, etc.
On 15 March, the GRECO asked Switzerland to reinforce ethical rules for members of the parliament, judges and prosecutors in its report on the fourth evaluation round, despite a high degree of citizens’ trust towards Swiss public officials. It highlights the need for developing information and prevention of conflicts of interests for members of the Parliament, which could imply the adoption a code and the implementation of financial declarations for instance.
On 17 March, 100 civil society organizations, among which Transparency international, Oxfam, the European Youth Forum, etc. signed a joint letter to call on the parliament to adopt a strong position during the negotiations of a new interinstitutional agreement on a common lobbying register to the Council, Commission and European Parliament. They voiced the desire that only registered lobbies should have access to public officials and that the common secretariat in charge of the register should get more resources in order to ensure the quality of published data.
On 21 March, the constitutional affairs commission adopted a resolution asking that only registered lobbyists on the common transparency register of the EU have access to the European Parliament. This resolution welcomes the initiative of the Bureau of the European Parliament to create a model of legislative footprint, on a voluntary basis, for members of the European Parliament to declare the lobbyists they met and at which stage of the process they were consulted. It also comes back on revolving doors measures for European Commissioners and on the need to give access to more documents related to informal negotiations between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the EU.
In March 2017, The European Ombudsman opened an inquiry to determine whether the Council of the European Union gives sufficient access to ongoing negotiations on bills of the EU to citizens. 14 questions were sent to the Council, notably on registration of Member States position on bills, or on the way to treat rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU, etc. the answer is expected by the Ombudsman by June 2017. On this occasion, Transparency International EU published an article to support the Ombudsman’s initiative.
Open Government Partnership
On 15 March, The Open Government Partnership published its activity report for 2016. It comes nback on the actions implemented notably to deepen the partnership and collaborations and to make sure that governments serve and empower citizens. In the future, this will not only be measured by the number of countries involved but also in terms of implemented policies related to transparency, accountability, participation of citizens to public decisions, etc. The report mentions the Summit in Paris and the mechanisms and processes of independent evaluation of national action plans and notably recommends to use more co-creation between public and private sectors and civil society in the drafting process of these plans.
In Africa, many whistleblowers, such as John Githongo in Kenya, revealed integrity and corruption scandals. Considering this and the fact that very often there is no system guaranteeing protection of whistleblowers, a whistleblowers’ protection platform was officially launched on 7 March in Dakkar. Lawyers, magistrates, journalists from diverse countries will support whistleblowers via this platform by providing them with legal assistance or by orienting them towards investigative journalists, while guaranteeing the anonymization of complaints.
On 7 March, Transparency International published a report on corruption in the Asia-Pacific zone. The results highlighted that out of the 20 000 interrogated persons in 16 countries, one in four Asian inhabitant had to pay bribes in 2016, i.e. more than 900 million people. The report underlines that the two most affected countries were India and Vietnam where the phenomena reached two third of the population, in fields such as access to education or health services.