• Tue, 9 May 2023


    A lot has been cooking in Brussels on the anti-corruption front. But how afraid should corrupt actors be?

   This week, the European Commission unveiled its long-awaited anti-corruption package. It includes a proposal for a stand-alone anti-corruption directive to harmonize definitions and penalties for corruption-related crimes across the EU, among other things.

  This is good. As we highlighted upon the release of the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), many EU countries have been targeting corruption with outdated laws and piecemeal approaches – and failing at it.


On Wednesday, European Commission representatives Josep Borrell Fontelles, Věra Jourová, Margaritis Schinas and Ylva Johansson held a press conference on the proposed anti-corruption package. Photo: © European Union, 2023

        Looking outwards, the Commission is finally proposing its own global anti-corruption sanctions regime. If adopted, the EU would gain the ability to sanction foreign individuals and entities – regardless of their origin – for serious corruption. Considering that the region has long been the go-to destination for stolen assets from around the world, this too is welcome.

        But we have a bone to pick with the Commission on two other matters.

        It’s been several weeks since the European Parliament proposed strong measures to salvage the bloc’s corporate transparency framework – something that became necessary after last year’s relapse. The negotiations to agree on the anti-money laundering package start next week, and we’re particularly anxious to know their take on how journalists, activists, academics and foreign authorities should be granted access to information on companies’ real owners.

       To ensure that this issue moves to the top of their agenda, today we publicly called on the Commission to explicitly support the European Parliament’s progressive provisions in an open letter from nearly 200 signatories.

       The stakes are high: if civil society and our allies cannot have meaningful access to this crucial data, much of recent years’ progress will be lost and the fight against cross-border financial crime will continue to suffer. Even the sanctions regime that the Commission is now proposing will surely be more vulnerable to evasion.


Why do we need to know who own EU companies? Experts explain in our video with the Anti-Corruption Data Collective.

        We’re also worried about the new foreign agents act that’s in the works. As it stands, it risks undermining civic freedoms across the EU, with a very plausible chilling effect globally. Over 200 civil society organisations have said so in a statement issued this week, calling on the Commission to take a step back and rethink its proposal.

        Similar laws in other places around the world have led to repressions, so the Commission needs to prevent harming free and independent civil society that stands guard against corruption and other kinds of abuses.

        Hopefully we’ve given the Commission enough food for thought – and reading material – for the weeks to come. How many steps forward or backward the EU takes in the fight against corruption depends on how carefully they consider our calls.


CPI 2022: Trouble at the top (January 2023)

        The EU is home to many of the top-scoring countries on the CPI. If there was any doubt before, then the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed just how deeply complicit supposedly “clean” countries really are in enabling globalised corruption and kleptocracy.


        European Commission must uphold corporate transparency in the 6th Anti-Money Laundering Directive

        On the eve of interinstitutional negotiations on the EU’s anti-money laundering legislative package, Transparency International and our allies call on the Commission to explicitly support strong provisions for meaningful stakeholder access to beneficial ownership registers that were recently proposed by the European Parliament.

Source ==> Transparency International Newsletter