What is the mission?
Already as a national MP I noticed that the interest shown by governments of the member states in reducing corruption related to the use of European funds is next to none, whereas they are very keen on preventing EU institutions from any potentially efficient move that they might make to stand up against it. I have bombarded OLAF with a considerable number of well-documented cases of shamelessly overpriced European-funded projects carried out by the cronies of the governing party, to no or very little avail. On the other hand, I am quite aware that the integrity of the EU institutions isn’t impeccable either. The regulation of lobbying is weak and incomplete, there are important loopholes in the transparency of legislative procedures, the accountability of some of the European institutions barely exists, the regulation on conflicts of interest are insufficient to prevent the revolving door phenomenon.
The Commission’s first issue of the biannual “EU Anti-Corruption Report” was published in February 2014. It states that the EU economy loses a sum in the order of magnitude of the budget of the European Union to corruption annually, that the financial crisis made it an even bigger concern to EU citizens, that three quarters of EU citizens judge that corruption is widespread in their country, and that one in twelve of them say they have personally witnessed a case of corruption in the last 12 months.
Apart from a couple of general chapters that primarily highlights the corruption risks associated with public procurement, the Commission’s report consists of the assessment of the 28 Member States, identifying unevenness, the lack of common minimum standards in several regulatory areas such as transparency, freedom of information, conflicts of interests, integrity standards in public service, the financing of political parties, and penal law, and warning about the influence and control organized crime gains in politics and public administration through corruption in several Member States.
Many were taken aback by the fact that the Anticorruption Report had nothing to say about the corruption or the integrity problems related to the European political institutions themselves. The “missing 29th chapter” of the report assessing the integrity of the EU institutions themselves has been produced by the Transparency International EU Office not long after the Commission’s report was published. The EU Integrity System (EUIS) Report looks at the rules in place and the practice within ten EU institutions and identifies corruption risks e.g. in the opacity of certain parts of the EU law-making procedure, lobbying, poorly managed conflicts of interest, and the insufficient protection for whistle-blowers. The report also raises serious concerns about “the perception – and potentially the actual degree – of OLAF’s independence” in its current status as part of the Commission, and calls for OLAF’s full organizational independence.
Corruption is not merely a problem causing economic loss, one of many, which Member States and EU institutions would address by adopting suitable policies and legislation. Corruption, the influence of corrupt economic players in politics and public administration, the capture of law-making by lobbyists advocating powerful private interests, exchanging level playing fields for favouritism in the economy – these are not technicalities, these constitute a serious challenge to the moral foundations of democracy. While we witness the decline of trust in the basic institutional framework of liberal democracy and of concern for democratic values in European societies which the economic crisis hit the hardest, most notably in Hungary, we should bear in mind that the way for such a downturn was paved by a severe disillusion caused, among other things, by the corruption with which our democracies are infested. The quality and credibility of democracy is at stake here.
For these reasons I think we should call for the development of a comprehensive European anti-corruption strategy encompassing all the relevant EU policy areas alongside with the issues of institutional design addressing, among other things, OLAF’s controversial status as a Commission service, in the context of the proposed establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. I think we should also aim at the establishment of an efficient financial tool to support investigative journalism throughout Europe—a journalistic genre proven vital in braking corruption cases endangered by the decline of traditional journalism. To achieve these goals, I feel I should take the initiative in my own political group, the Greens – European Free Alliance Group, and the establishment of an intergroup on the subject seems also necessary. I would like to see anti-corruption among the chief items on the European political agenda, as it is corruption and fraud with European funds, and the opacity of lobbying in EU level political decision making that provide the easiest target to attack for the enemies of European political cooperation and integration.
I will report on my activities related to these topics on this webpage. My reports will be organised under several headings:
- Integrity (transparency and regulation of lobbying, legislative footprint, revolving doors, conflict of interest)
- Whistle-blower protection
- Corruption related to cohesion policy
- VAT fraud
- Support for investigative journalism
- EU anti-corruption strategy
I also would like to provide the reader with an easy to access selection of the existing anti-corruption legislation, both European and Hungarian.
It is also my aim to provide a safe and easy to use platform for Hungarian whistle-blowers to report cases of fraud and corruption they witness in relation to the use of EU funds.
As far as my own dealings are concerned, I am prepared to make my calendar transparent. The public will be able to see here on this website exactly who I meet and what I discuss with them as an MEP. I am also prepared to record the legislative footprint of any discussion I enter concerning any legislation on which I will report (or shadow-report).
Thus this site should have three more subsections:
- Your rights – a collection of European and Hungarian anti-corruption legislation
- Blowing the whistle – a platform to report fraud and corruption safely
- My glass lobby – a transparent record of my meetings and their legislative footprint
Source of the picture: hirmagazin.sulinet
This post is also available in: Hungarian