Croatia continues to poorly comply with anti-corruption recommendations regarding MPs, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe's anti-corruption body, said in its 2020 annual report released on Thursday.
GRECO issues recommendations for the fight against corruption among members of parliament, judges, and prosecutors in its member countries.
Croatia, which was last evaluated in 2020, fully implemented six out of 13 GRECO recommendations. Since then, it had partially implemented five recommendations and failed to implement two, the report said.
Croatia’s biggest problem is with non-compliance with GRECO recommendations regarding members of parliament, Croatia’s state agency Hina reported, without clarifying.
GRECO said that the countries with the highest share of non-implemented recommendations regarding MPs are Monaco (100 percent), Andorra (83 percent), Poland (83 percent), Austria (75 percent), Hungary (71 percent) and Croatia (67 percent).
The report does not specify the recommendations.
The countries that GRECO says have complied with all the recommendations regarding MPs are Finland, Norway, Albania, Bulgaria and Great Britain.
As regards recommendations for judges, the countries with the highest share of disregard for the recommendations are Turkey (83 percent), Ireland (80 percent), Switzerland (75 percent), Austria (67 percent), France (67 percent) and Montenegro (67 percent). Croatia was given five recommendations in this area, two of which were implemented fully while three were implemented partially.
Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden complied with all the recommendations regarding judges.
Austria, Turkey and Portugal were also at the bottom of the list with regard to overall compliance with the recommendations but worse in that regard was Bosnia and Herzegovina, the only country that did not implement a single recommendation. Finland and Norway are the only two countries that complied with all the recommendations, and Albania is close, with 90 percent compliance.
By the end of 2020, GRECO member countries fully implemented close to 40 percent of the recommendations to prevent corruption among MPs, judges and prosecutors.
Compliance was the lowest for recommendations concerning MPs (only 30 percent of those recommendations were implemented), followed by recommendations for judges (41 percent) and prosecutors (47 percent).
Corruption in a time of pandemic
“Governments should rigorously manage the corruption risks that have emerged due to the need to take extraordinary measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, including the infusion of large amounts of money into the economy to alleviate its economic and social impact,” GRECO said in its annual report.
“GRECO underlines that for more than a year now governments have had to put in place emergency measures that have implied concentrations of powers and derogation of fundamental rights, measures which go hand in hand with corruption risks that should not be underestimated. These risks may be particularly pronounced in respect of public procurement systems when it comes to issues such as conflicts of interest and the role of lobbying,” they added.
“In the challenging times we face, governments should step up their efforts to ensure that all policies and actions aimed at addressing the public health and economic crises meet anti-corruption standards. Adequate legislation and institutional frameworks to combat corruption are not enough. We must see these standards applied effectively in practice, and governments must act with transparency and accountability,” Council of Europe’s Secretary General, and Croatia’s former Foreign Minister, Marija Pejcinovic-Buric, said.
GRECO President, Marin Mrcela, who is also the Vice-President of the Croatian Supreme Court, called on states to closely follow the guidelines issued by GRECO in 2020 to prevent corruption risks in the context of the pandemic.
“It is crucial that, in state of emergency situations, all decisions and procedures are designed with transparency, integrity and accountability,” Mrcela said.