European governments must do more to tackle corruption risks that have emerged from nations’ financial needs due to COVID-19, according to a new report released on Thursday.
The Council of Europe has warned that countries must apply “transparency, oversight and accountability” to the large cash injections being received due to the pandemic, including from the EU’s own recovery fund.
Marin Mrčela, president of the organisation’s anti-corruption body (GRECO), told Euronews that these three criteria must be kept in mind when distributing money.
“When you have large sums of money being disbursed rapidly, large scale public procurement, insufficient number of vaccines and new – like it was announced two weeks ago – vaccine passports, it is very important that you have those three criteria in mind,” Mrčela said.
The report states that just over 40 per cent of GRECO’s recommendations aimed at preventing corruption involving prosecutors, judges and lawmakers, have been implemented.
Mrčela even says that in some member states there are blatant attempts by lawmakers to minimise the independence of the judiciary.
“I think we have mentioned the examples of Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia and we have a number of countries where the stage of the judicial council is composed of members of the executive or politicians. In those countries, you need also the political will to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases,” the GRECO president told Euronews.
The report also says that some governments must do more on freedom of information laws, lobbying and conflict of interests involving politicians.
The Council of Europe is a Strasbourg-based international organisation set up in the wake of World War II to protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and has 47 members, including all 27 EU countries, Russia and Turkey.