Excellencies, co-chairs and Members of the FACTI Panel, distinguished colleagues,
I have the honor to intervene today on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
As we are all aware, the COVID-19 crisis is hitting the world in an unprecedented terrible manner. We all have to adapt our lives and working methods to this situation and we appreciate the opportunity to interact virtually and directly today with the High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for achieving the 2030 Agenda and we appeal to its Members to take heed of our recommendations. The more the work of this panel will focus on areas of consensus, the more useful and actionable its recommendations will be.
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 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.
We note that the FACTI panel membership is complete now and that the panel has taken up its work. We wish all panel members a steady hand for their work on these important issues.
We regret that the background documents for this consultation were only circulated on Monday, which makes it impossible for us to deliver detailed remarks on their content. We will provide written comments after careful consideration of the documentation. Nevertheless we have a couple of preliminary questions:
- The read-out of the first meeting on March 31 mentions that three clusters for the Panel's work were proposed. How have these clusters been chosen over others?
- How will the panel take into account today’s exchange as well as the written feedback of Member States for the future of its work?
- How will the panel take into account stakeholders’ feedback such as civil society and the private sector?
We take note of the “Overview of existing international institutional and legal frameworks related to financial accountability, transparency and integrity” posted on the FACTI website. We appreciate the explicit reference to existing organs and processes as basis for the work of the Panel.
In this context, we would like to reiterate our position that we strongly believe that our efforts should focus on the effective implementation of existing instruments, notably the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its implementation review mechanisms.
An aspect that is very important to tackle appropriately is corruption. Corruption is a major obstacle to sustainable development and has serious implications hindering development cooperation.
We therefore encourage FACTI to closely follow the ongoing preparatory process for the UNGASS 2021, for which written contributions by Member States and other stakeholders have already been submitted to UNODC.
In our view the work of the Panel should be based on these instruments, avoiding overlaps and ensuring that we do not undermine what has already been achieved.
We urge the panel to focus on areas of consensus, promote the implementation of what already exists and to reach out to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the OECD and G20 that do important work in this field.
A focus on implementation is useful. We believe that instead of looking at gaps in the existing frameworks, which would risk preempting the panel’s findings, it would be more constructive to look at how to address weaknesses of the existing frameworks and at possibilities to enhance implementation.
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 in the Terms of Reference, the mentioning of the establishment of a global asset registry in the clusters of the panel’s work as well as the conflation of tax avoidance and evasion as financial crimes.
Once again, we call upon the panel to seek synergies and cooperation with the work of international institutions combating illicit financial flows such as the FATF, OECD and G20 initiatives, and to promote the existing international standards. We look forward to being consulted further during the drafting and finalization of the report.
As we start the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development 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.
As we are all aware, the dramatic situation imposed by COVID-19 makes interaction and discussions very challenging. We invite you to adjust the timeline for the work of the panel, in particular, with regards to the presentation of the reports 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 continue the dialogue as part of our continued commitment and support on these important topics.