Answer to Written Question: How will the Commission ensure that corruption does not increase during the coronavirus crisis?

(Source: European Parliament)



Answer given by Ms Johansson

on behalf of the European Commission


In the new Strategy to tackle organised crime, the Commission stressed that the large scale resource mobilisation to respond to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis has indirectly created new opportunities for corruption. Hence efforts should be stepped up at national and EU level to fight corruption.

EU anti-corruption measures include prosecutorial actions (such as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office), preventive tools of detection (such as rules on the protection of whistleblowers[1]), combined with the criminalisation of economic crimes affecting the Union’s financial interests[2].

At EU level, there are also other instruments to generally promote and protect the rule of law, like, infringement proceedings, the EU Justice Scoreboard and the European rule of law mechanism. In 2020, the Commission adopted the first annual EU Rule of Law report[3], with the aim to an early detection of national rule of law challenges, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the Recovery and Resilience Facility contains conditionalities as to prevent corruption risks in Member States.

Anti-corruption measures are also part of Association Agreements with partner countries, including in the framework of visa liberalisation dialogues. In either case, the breaches of rule of law, including corruption, in a Member State or in a partner country could entail the termination of the agreement with the EU.

[1] Among other instruments, on public procurement and on the prevention and deterrence of fraud and other illegal activities affecting the EU’s financial interests. Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (OJ L 305, p. 17).

[2] Directive (EU) 2017/1371 includes in Article 4 the obligation for participating Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that passive and active corruption, when committed intentionally, constitute criminal offences. This Directive was adopted having regard of Article 83(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and it is not applicable to all Member States.

[3] COM(2019)343 final.

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