Strengthening the fight against corruption: Assessing the EU policy and legislative framework
Corruption affects all EU member states, intruding on good governance and sound management of public money. It can also undermind the trust of citizens in democratic institutions and processes. RAND Europe and Ernst & Young assessed the legislative gaps in the EU anti-corruption aquis and devised possible options for a modernised EU approach to prevent and fight corruption.
What is the issue?
Corruption is present in the EU – it affects all member states, even though it varies in nature, reach and magnitude. Corruption intrudes on good governance and sound management of public money and can undermine the trust of citizens in democratic institutions and processes. It also contributes to lowering investment levels, hampering the fair operation of the Internal Market, and reducing public finances.
How did we help?
Ernst & Young (EY) and RAND Europe assessed the legislative gaps in the EU anti-corruption acquis where there could be a need for EU-level action to better support the prevention of and fight against corruption in member states. The research team devised possible options for a modernised EU approach to preventing and fighting corruption that might add value and address the challenges identified.
Multiple data collection activities were conducted, including detailed desk research, as well as broad field research activities including 32 stakeholder interviews, a survey of member states, five national focus groups, and three workshops.
This project was commissioned by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) of the European Commission.
What did we find?
The study identified two core problems.
First, repression of corruption in the EU is subject to legislative and operational barriers. This problem is driven by insufficient criminalisation of corruption and related crimes in the EU. Bribery-related cases are the dominant focus; whereas criminalisation of embezzlement, illicit enrichment, trading in influence, abuse of functions, obstruction of justice and illicit party financing is inadequate across member states. Moreover, national law enforcement and judicial authorities have not always adequate capacity to detect and prosecute corruption.
Second, prevention of corruption in the EU is limited. This problem is driven by inadequate approaches to prevent corruption at the member state level. Specifically, not all member states have rules in place on undue lobbying, conflicts of interest, and revolving doors. Some member states lack comprehensive anti-corruption plans and dedicated anticorruption authorities; verification systems on asset declaration are lacking or limitedly used; and some member states lack specific services on ethics and integrity. Moreover, prevention programmes suffer from a lack of data on and knowledge of the magnitude of corruption in the EU.
What can be done?
The study produced two policy options and assessed the impacts relative to the baseline scenario (‘status quo’). The policy option that was assessed as superior in terms of its expected effectiveness, as well as its impacts on economy, security and society, included the following measures:
To improve efficient investigation and prosecution of corruption:
- Establish common minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and related sanctions in corruption.
- Establish minimum rules concerning the statute of limitations for corruption related cases.
- Establish minimum rules concerning immunity for members of the government, or the parliament.
- Establish minimum rules concerning reverse burden of proof in asset confiscation related to illicit enrichment cases.
To improve the prevention of corruption:
- Establish common minimum standards against enablers of corruption.
- Establish an EU anti-corruption prevention agency.
- Develop an EU Corruption Index.