LIBE Committee Hearing

European People’s Party invited CSD to present the results of the study Examining the links between organised crime and corruption. On 13 July 2010, Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, Research Director, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Economic Program and Mr. Philip Gounev, Research Fellow at CSD presented to LIBE the study. Their presentation was followed by a lively discussion with numerous comments and questions. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Juan Lopez Aguilar (ES) of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP.

CSD’s presentation was opened by Mr. Stefanov who introduced CSD and the content of the presentation. Mr. Stoyanov, then, explained the objectives and the political context of the study, such as its relevance to The Hague and Stockholm Programmes, as well as to the mechanisms of the Council of Europe, OECD, or Europol to monitor anti-corruption measures or organized-crime related corruption. Mr. Stoyanov laid out the methodology of the study, and explained the issues with available statistical and survey data on corruption and organized crime. Mr. Gounev focused on the institutions that organized crime targets. He explained that the police is the institution where organized criminals use corruption most often, while political corruption was the most powerful tool, as it allows criminals to influence also judicial, administrative, or law-enforcement bodies. Mr. Stefanov concluded the presentation by laying out CSD’s recommendations, focusing on the proposed corruption monitoring mechanism.

Mr. Conrelis de Jong (NL) of the Confederal Group of the European United Left noted that the existing data on corruption and organised crime does not allow effectively examining and comparing data on particular Member States. He noted that one should not focus only on political or organised-crime related corruption and dismiss the data on petty corruption, as this is important to all citizens of the EU. He noted that much could be learned from the experience of Latin America, where monitoring mechanisms have been put in place in recent years. Finally, he commented that we should seek mechanisms to monitor corruption within the present bodies of the EU, rather than establishing new agencies.

Ms. Roberta Angelilli (IT) of the EPP emphasised the need for a common approach and a working definition of corruption in light of the requirements of the Stockholm program. She noted though, that there is a need for an institutional approach to defining corruption, rather than a general overarching definition. She concluded that a reaction to the findings of this report by the European Commission, including Commissioner Malmstrom is highly necessary and that there is a need to create a common EU monitoring mechanism, which would allow naming and shaming of member states. Mr. Gounev agreed with this comment, pointing out that police corruption refers to very specific acts, and that presently Member States’ police forces have very different definitions. As a result, for instance, police forces in the UK report many times more cases of corruption, than the French police do.

Ms. Maryia Nedelcheva (BG) of the EPP asked about the value added of CSD’s recommendation for new monitoring mechanism, comparing to already existing mechanisms for monitoring anti-corruption policies of the Council of Europe or the OECD and in light of the European Commission’s experience on implementing the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on corruption and organized crime in Bulgaria and Romania. Mr. Stefanov responded that while it might be true that there is no comparable data on corruption and organized crime in EU-27, there are sound research methods and tools, which allow the collection of such data should there be political will to implement them at EU-27 level. According to CSD research there is already enough experience with corruption and organized crime monitoring and benchmarking at EU level and this should be consolidated and applied at European level. One such specific experience, which can be implemented to EU policies such as enlargement and internal market, is the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on Bulgaria and Romania.

Mr. Simon Busuttil (MT), of the EPP noted that there is a need to raise the issue of corruption on the EU policy agenda. He emphasised the need to use clearly established cases to monitor corruption and asked the European Commission what their next steps are to implement the recommendations of the presented study. He commended CSD on the study and on its recommendations.

Mr. Stanimir Ilchev (BG) of the ALDE Group noted the high quality of the report and its relevance to the countries of Eastern Europe. He asked whether the culturally entrenched attitudes that allow corruption and organized to persists in Eastern Europe, would change with the ending of the period of transition to democracy and market economy.

Mr. Rosario Crocetta of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP called the report a ‘courageous’ act, and noted its timeliness and the need to discuss these very issues in Europe rather than in other countries of the world.

Finally, a representative of the European Commission (DG JLS) emphasised that the EC is committed to putting forward the corruption agenda, and that the Study was part of this effort.

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