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More Transparency in the Anti-Corruption Directive


Published date

15 Mar, 2024

There are some new developments in the work on the anti-corruption directive. In February, the European Parliament's LIBE Committee voted on proposed amendments to the text. Among the many amendments, it was proposed to add some paragraphs on transparency in public procurement.

The Open Spending EU Coalition took part in the consultation on the directive in May 2023. We wrote, among other things, that "Financial transparency is essential to the fight against corruption, as it plays a crucial role in preventing corrupt practices. Studies on corruption have shown that financial oversight on public spending is lacking and that opening it up to the public can increase accountability. The public has a right to know how their tax money is being spent. This information should be made available in a transparent and accessible manner. Only then can we hold those in power accountable for their actions."

We also emphasised that "while the adoption of international treaties and their transposition into EU law can be a positive step toward promoting financial transparency, it is not sufficient on its own. In order to truly make a difference, transparency must be deeply ingrained in the fight against corruption. This requires a rethinking of laws and procedures in a way that includes transparency on spending and other financial activities."

These views were joined by Members of Parliament working on the LIBE Committee. They voted in favour of amendments that emphasise the need for transparent public procurement. They propose to add the following paragraph to the directive:

"Public procurement, as a key interface between the public and private sectors, is particularly vulnerable to corruption, given the significant financial interests at stake and the complexity of procurement processes. Recognising that these vulnerabilities can lead to inefficiencies, misallocation of public resources, and a loss of public trust in governmental institutions, robust measures are needed to enhance transparency, oversight, and accountability in public procurement processes. This includes establishing clear guidelines, promoting digital solutions for traceability, ensuring rigorous auditing mechanisms, and providing platforms for whistleblower protections and public scrutiny. In order to fight corruption efficiently, it is important that Member States strengthen the transparency of public procurement processes by enabling stakeholder participation, better access to information, including through the use of e-procurement, as well as oversight and control those procurement processes."

More specifically, Parliament demands that "Member States shall take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances. Member States shall, in particular, take the necessary steps to establish appropriate systems of procurement, based on transparency, competition and objective criteria in decision-making. Member States shall publish information in open data formats including, but not limited to, government budgets, government spending, public procurement, voting records, permits and concessions, and state subsidies."

Now it is time for further steps, including negotiations with other EU legislators. Will they succeed in this parliamentary term? It is not certain, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that these proposed changes will hold up in the final version of the directive.

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