Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

 

EU Statement – United Nations: High Level Debate on the 15th High-Level Debate to Mark the 15th Anniversary of the Adoption of UNCAC

New York, 23/05/2018 - 22:41, UNIQUE ID: 180523_9
Statements on behalf of the EU

23 May 2018, New York – European Union Statement at the United Nations High Level Debate on the 15th High-Level Debate to Mark the 15th Anniversary of the Adoption of UNCAC Emerging trends and Promoting the effective implementation of the Convention

Mr Chairman,

 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

On corruption generally

  1. Corruption is a threat to democracy, good governance and fair competition. It undermines the rule of law and the fundamental values of our societies. Corruption is often a facilitator of crimes threatening security.
  2. Political will is an essential condition to the success of anti-corruption policies. We remain committed to continue our efforts in this field and to promote effective measures against corruption. We also remain committed to the implementation of international standards.

On the fight against corruption – EU policies and legislation

  1. The fight against corruption has a central place in both our internal and external policies. It forms part of the EU acquis. Preventive actions, criminalisation, freezing, confiscation and recovery of assets, international cooperation: these are the key elements of any strategy to roll back corruption. The EU and its Member states have taken action in these areas.
  2. Across the EU, we have been striving to set in place measures to tackle corruption. Recently, we have been reinforcing EU rules against money laundering to better address issues of beneficial ownership and due diligence by adopting the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive. The revised Anti-Money Laundering Directive will put in place centralised bank and payment account registers and central data retrieval systems and provide access to Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
  3. Most recently, in April 2018, the Commission proposed a package of measures enabling the national competent authorities to access and exchange financial and other information in a timely manner. The measures aim to grant law enforcement authorities, Asset Recovery Offices and Anti-Corruption authorities with direct access to the information contained in the centralised bank account registries. They also aim at improving cooperation between law enforcement authorities and Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and between FIUs.

 

  1. The EU institutions have also been working with Member States to improve the mutual recognition of freezing orders in the EU. Work is also ongoing to fully set up the European Public Prosecutor's Office, which will be competent to investigate and prosecute crimes affecting the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption and money laundering. Following a build-up phase of three years, the EPPO is envisaged to take up its prosecutorial functions at the end of 2020.
  2. Furthermore, the Commission proposed action at EU level to strengthen whistle-blower protection. The new measure will guarantee a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law by setting EU-wide standards. It will establish safe channels for reporting both within an organisation and to public authorities. It will also protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation and require national authorities to inform citizens and provide training for public authorities on how to deal with whistleblowers.
  3. At EU level we regularly conduct consultations with stakeholders to assess the need for improvement in EU legislation. We also follow up on developments which show a need for stronger action.
  4. Corruption has wide-reaching social, political and economic consequences. We recognise corruption as an obstacle to investment, trade and economic development and underline the need to prevent corruption and collusion between suppliers. Cases of unfair procurement have to be firmly addressed.
  5.  Political will is essential for the success of anti-corruption policies. We believe these are key to business confidence, to improve investment climate, to efficient public spending, as well as for economic, social and territorial cohesion.  
  6.  Sharing good practices is a cornerstone of our work at EU level. In 2015, we launched an EU anti-corruption experience-sharing programme. This offers anti-corruption practitioners a forum to seek inspiration from legislative, institutional and policy reforms in other Member States.  The format is open and collaborative, allowing for a frank exchange on successful measures, but also on challenges and obstacles in effectively setting these in place.

 

On international cooperation

  1.  Corruption undermines development, the rule of law, good governance and reduces the effectiveness of development aid, hurting poor people disproportionately.

We therefore welcome the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which explicitly mentions the need to substantially reduce corruption and bribery, and to strengthen the recovery of stolen assets while recognizing that effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels and public access to information are essential to fight corruption. We welcome the initiative of UNODC to identify good practices for the return of stolen assets in support of sustainable development and emphasize the importance of the common obligation of fully implementing the Addis Abeba Action Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG 16.

  1.  The EU fights against corruption in its external actions through a combination of instruments that include:
  • Support to public administration reform and sound public financial management, including the development of integrity and accountability frameworks;
  • Support to the fight against economic/financial crime through capacity-building for law enforcement and judicial authorities, and support to Justice and Security sector reforms (including police reform);
  • Support to establishing a robust legal framework in line with international standards on preventing and fighting corruption.
  • Support to establishing and strengthening specialized anti-corruption bodies.
  • Support to civil society, the media, whistle-blowers, human rights defenders, as well as Supreme Audit Institutions and Parliaments in exercising their oversight and control functions.
  • Support to the improvement of the business and investment climate and customs reform.

On funding the UNODC / UNCAC reviews

  1. The review of implementation of the UNCAC plays an important role in the global fight against corruption. We are therefore pleased to see the second cycle of review underway and welcome its focus on preventive measures and on asset recovery.
  2.  We underline the need to keep our work transparent, inclusive and cost efficient, avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens and duplication of work.
  3.  All EU members have acceded to the UNCAC, and all EU members of the OECD are also signatories of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. 
     
  4.  The United Nations Convention against Corruption, as our global instrument in the fight against corruption, and its review mechanism complement existing regional and international anti-corruption mechanisms. In this this context we underscore the strong call from State Parties to enhance and facilitate synergies between relevant multilateral organizations responsible for review mechanisms in the field of anti-corruption such as the GRECO of the Council of Europe and the OECD and welcome further concrete actions and steps in this regard.
  5.  Together with our Member States, the EU is the largest contributor to the technical assistance and capacity-building work of the UNODC, with 26 ongoing projects worth 185 million euros.
  6.  We look forward to our continued result-oriented collaboration, keeping in mind the need for coordinated response with other multilateral organizations

Closing

  1.  Our societies are based on democracy, justice and the rule of law. Corruption is a challenge to all three of these, an affront to the very foundations of our political, economic and social values and to the well-being of our societies. We need to work together to address this common and serious threat.
  2.  Civil society is a key partner in the global fight against corruption both in the implementation and the review of the Convention. We believe that the input of all relevant stakeholders such as academia and civil society is not only valuable, but necessary and key for provisions of supplementary information, advocacy for specific anti-corruption measures, awareness raising and the provision of assistance to States parties in effectively implementing UNCAC. In this context, we believe that States Parties should make optimal use of all available information and expertise, including from civil society. Constructive dialogue between States Parties and civil society improves the impact of the convention.
  3. We hope this event will once more show that international action supports recovering assets of international crimes, and fighting corruption in general.
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