The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (Greco) has highlighted the persistence of “grey areas” in the fight against corruption in France and called on Paris to make more efforts to prevent corruption “within the executive”.
“The growing expectation of citizens as to the exemplary conduct of members of the executive (…) is palpable in France”, the Strasbourg-based anti-corruption body says in its latest 64-page. However, “grey areas where additional efforts are needed” remain, despite “positive” developments, such as the creation of the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA), the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP ) and the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, notes the report.
GRECO welcomed the recent adoption of a plan to detect and prevent the risk of corruption “within ministries” but recommends its extension “to the office of the President of the Republic (…), who should be examined by the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life upon his/her taking office in order to prevent any conflict of interest, real or perceived.”
Corruption cases involving ministers should no longer be tried in the Court of Justice, “half of whose members are parliamentarians” but by a different court, “that is not only independent and impartial but also perceived as such,” the report says.
To combat lobbying, the authors suggest that people exercising high executive functions “be required to report publicly and at regular intervals on behalf of the representatives of interests met and the topics discussed…”
GRECO calls for “the development of a comprehensive strategy for the prevention of corruption” within the police and gendarmerie, with “security checks” implented throughout careers so as to take account of any changes in their personal circumstances that may make them more vulnerable to corruption risks.”
According to the report, French legislation on the protection of whistleblowers has proven in practice to be “complex” and “not entirely effective” so should also be improved. Composed of 48 European states plus the United States, GRECO was created in 1999 to improve the ability of its members to fight corruption.
In the last world ranking of perception of corruption index published by Transparency International, France was in 21st place out of 180 countries.