“No room for rejoicing”, says transparency watchdog
Of five specific recommendations for MPs “Portugal hasn’t fully applied even one”
The annual report of the Council of Europe today reports that Portugal is lagging behind when it comes to the application of recommendations focused on fighting corruption.
Explains Lusa, Portugal has fully implemented only three of the 15 recommendations of the group of states against corruption (GRECO), while seven recommendations were partially implemented and five remained unimplemented.
According to today’s report, which covers the year 2021, of the five anti-corruption recommendations addressed to members of parliament from GRECO member states, Portugal did not implement any of them in full, while three were partially implemented and two remained unimplemented.
Concerning the six recommendations addressed to judges, Portugal has only one fully implemented, three were partially implemented and two recommendations were not implemented.
The situation is better with regard to public prosecutors, since out of the four recommendations issued by GRECO, two have been fully implemented, one has been partially implemented and one has not been implemented at all.
Spain, on the other hand, has six GRECO recommendations fully implemented out of a total of 11, four partially implemented and only one not implemented (concerning judges).
Overall, for all 46 GRECO member states, the situation in 2021 shows 44.9% of the recommendations have been fully implemented, 36.85% have been partially implemented and 18.16% have yet to be implemented. The highest percentage of fully implemented measures concerns prosecutors (53.64%), followed by judges (46.97%) and members of parliament (35.85%).
GRECO, a Council of Europe monitoring body created in 1999 and based in Strasbourg, France, has been issuing recommendations related to anti-corruption policy and integrity, transparency and oversight of government activities, conflicts of interest, prohibition or restriction of certain activities, declaration of assets and income and accountability mechanisms and enforcement measures.
The report underlines that during the first half of 2021 constraints resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic “still affected GRECO’s ability to conduct assessment visits” to individual countries, with GRECO resuming its ‘on-site’ assessment visits from June and managing to conduct seven visits in 2021, including the first visit to Kazakhstan, which is the newest member state.
According to GRECO, recommendations are important to root out corruption “wherever it appears”, as well as to achieve specific and concrete improvements in that regard.
The GRECO report welcomes the priority given by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to “increasing awareness and pressure on corruption issues” related to the “transparency and regulation of donations to political parties and election campaigns from foreign donors”.
In this regard, it points to the need for realisation of the recommendation “On Common Rules Against Corruption in the Financing of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns”, which indicates fundamental principles for political funding and expenditure, as well as provisions on transparency and oversight in this area.
GRECO also identifies specific risks linked to large-scale public procurement procedures, carried out when public institutions are under pressure to deliver work and contracts quickly.
It also warns of the risk of bribery in medical services, or of corruption in research on new products and development and draws attention to the problem of government contracts facilitated by political ‘lobbying’.
GRECO recalls that corruption makes societies “less just and less egalitarian” and reiterates its commitment to work to “ensure the highest standards of integrity” in its member states.
Bottom line: Portugal is not a star pupil. Says website ‘transparencia.pt’ “There is no place for rejoicing: Portugal continues without satisfactory compliance in preventing political corruption”.
Source material: LUSA