On the 6th of June 2019, the Council of the European Union awarded political support to the idea that the EU should seek observer status within the Group States Against Corruption (GRECO), marking an important advancement in one of the long-standing priorities of EU cooperation with the Council of Europe. First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, have consequently addressed a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, formally requesting that the EU be granted observer status in the work of the GRECO and asking that this item be included on the next plenary agenda.
GRECO was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor States’ compliance with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards. The objective of the Group is to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with Council of Europe anti-corruption standards through a dynamic process of mutual evaluation and peer pressure. It helps to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. GRECO also provides a platform for the sharing of best practice in the prevention and detection of corruption.
While the EU has been cooperating with the Council of Europe on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding agreed in 2007, GRECO is one of the few bodies of the Council of Europe with which the EU has no dedicated legal framework of cooperation. The EU's accession to Observer status within GRECO would constitute a great opportunity to boost efforts to fight corruption within and beyond the European Union.