Corruption new EU focus

Legal - May 24, 2023

The European Commission has now put forward three proposals to tighten and increase the penalties for corruption within the EU. “Now the EU is tightening the net around the corrupt”, says EU Commissioner.

The union has been hit by serious corruption scandals that have received a lot of attention. One of them was when Member of parliament Eva Kaili (S&D), who was also one of the parliament’s speakers, was arrested in a Belgian police raid. She is accused of accepting bribes. Bags with over 600,000 euros in cash have been seized in the residence of EU parliamentarians.

After these scandals in the management of the EU Parliament, the EU Commission has found it appropriate to raise the ambition in the work against corruption, even if those who were arrested worked for anti-corruption campaigns.

Credibility issues

Corruption costs the EU’s member states EUR 120 billion per year, on a low estimate. Many companies and citizens do not believe that the EU has the ability and effectiveness to fight corruption. Therefore, the European Commission has presented a three-part package that contains measures to strengthen work against corruption and increase penalties.

The package is called Joint Communication on the fight against Corruption

– Now we are proposing a large set of new corruption offenses to fight the one where it hurts the corrupt the most. This will cover the corruption offenses agreed internationally under the UN Convention against Corruption. With this proposal, we aim to tighten the net around the corrupt, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said in a statement.

Network to develop best practices

In a first section of the anti-corruption pact, the European Commission wants to establish and lead an EU network against corruption whose initial task will be to map the high-risk areas for corruption by next year. This network shall include experts from both authorities and civil society and the task is to develop best practices and provide guidance. The network will also support a systematic collection of data and evidence on corruption.

Broader interpretation of corruption

The second section deals with legislative work where the European Parliament together with the Council of Ministers must set up a list of what, in addition to classic bribery crimes, must also be considered corruption crimes, for example embezzlement and abuse of position. The directive must also harmonize the penalties for corruption offenses within the EU.

All over the world

The third section will be a matter for the Council of Ministers to decide on. It is about being able to punish serious corruption crimes all over the world. The idea that the information should be able to be used against “serious acts of corruption” in countries that have weak or non-existent legislation in the area.

– The untold amount of corruption affecting the lives of millions of people is devastating and it must be the relentless mission of the Union to stamp it out wherever it occurs. The new rules we are proposing today will raise the bar and extend criminal penalties to a wider set of corruption offenses across the EU, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said in a statement.