Mister President, Madame President,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The European Union and its Member States consider financial integrity and combatting illicit financial flows as a priority for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. We commend your strong engagement and tireless work towards better accountability, transparency and financial integrity, joining efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 16 by promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
With regards to the High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for achieving the 2030 Agenda, we appreciate the efforts which were finally made to consult, and welcome areas where our feedback has been taken on board with regard to the Terms of Reference and the substantial modifications that have been introduced.
We particularly welcome the separation of the FACTI Panel from United Nations mandated processes, since General Assembly Resolution 74/206 has not mandated the creation of this panel.
Furthermore, we appreciate the explicit reference to existing organs and processes as basis for the work of the Panel. Indeed, all our efforts should focus on the effective implementation of the existing instruments notably the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), both mentioned in the Terms of Reference.
In our view the work of the Panel should rely on the collaboration with these on-going processes, avoiding overlaps and ensuring that we do not undermine what has already been achieved.
A focus on implementation is useful. We believe the panel can do important work in solving the existing barriers which hamper the fight against Illicit Financial Flows such as, for example, lack of definitions, restrictions on information sharing, unequal implementation of the Financial Action Task Force Standards, or resourcing of domestic agencies according to risk. It can also be an opportunity to renew our collective political commitment to address this scourge.
The title of the panel mentions Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity. These terms include a variety of concepts, and we understand that the panel will review current challenges and trends related to financial accountability, transparency and integrity. We also understand that the panel aims to detect gaps of the current international institutional and legal frameworks.
Rather than pre-empting the conclusions, we look forward to seeing conclusions based on solid analysis, recommendations based on robust evidence, and practical examples from the current instruments. And that these all reflect the diverse views existing about how we should reach these goals.
In this context and for the above reasons we want to express deep concern about the ‘additional instruments or frameworks’ reference, as well as the conflation of tax avoidance and evasion as financial crimes.
We urge the panel to focus on areas of consensus, promote the implementation of what already exists, including FATF, OECD and G20 initiatives, and look forward to being consulted further during the drafting and finalization of the report.
As we start the Decade of Action and we all commit to act, let us focus on action and implementation, without creating new instruments whose value is questionable and that could divert attention and efforts from implementation of existing frameworks and commitments.
Given that four members of the panel still need to be identified, including one co-chair, we invite you to adjust the timeline for the work of the panel. In particular, with regards to the presentation of the interim report in order to ensure that the work is thoroughly conducted and that there is sufficient time for consultations before formulating recommendations.
In closing, we would like to put forward our availability to dialogue with the members of the panel as part of our continued commitment and support on these important topics.