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Strengthening Resilience to Corruption
 
Systemic corruption remains a problem in Southeast Europe in 2016, with many of the countries exhibiting at least some characteristics of state capture. This has been one of the key messages agreed upon by the participants at a policy workshop on 14 June 2016 in Brussels, when SELDI, the largest anti-corruption coalition of civil society organizations in the region, coordinated by CSD, presented to the European policy community the results of its 2016 Corruption Monitoring System in SEE.

In the past ten years, both the nature of corruption and the anticorruption agenda in Southeast Europe have changed. Political corruption has replaced petty bribery as the dominant concern of national and international reformists and as one of the leading causes for most social and economic damage. The earlier emphasis on harmonising national legislation with international standards has now been substituted by a focus on its enforcement. The past year in particular has vividly exposed governance vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe and how they threaten to undermine the region’s European perspective. The migration crisis, the economic stagnation, and the Russia-EU geopolitical stand-off have shown the need to reinvigorate the European Union’s engagement with the region. A critical part of this engagement remains the need to reduce corruption and state-capture vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe, especially in the energy sector.

In 2012 the European Commission adopted a new enlargement approach, which placed rule of law, anti-corruption, and judicial reform at the heart of the process. To respond to the new EU policy priorities, the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) has developed and implemented a civil society-led approach to monitoring and tackling corruption in the region, which provides policy makers with important insights. The SELDI initiative has drawn an accurate picture of the corruption environment in the region, presented the latest data on corruption pressure and introduced new ways for improving anti-corruption efforts.

So far, this engagement has increased transparency at best, but has not been able to tackle sustainably the region’s systemic corruption problem, let alone state capture cases, as CSD’s SELDI Corruption Monitoring System data for 2014 and 2016 has demonstrated. It is, however encouraging that most people from the region see corruption as a problem and still recognize the need for EU support, despite the delay in EU enlargement. Furthermore, the EU accession process is key to removing the county-level monopolies, increasing the economic prosperity, and lowering the administrative barriers to free trade and business, all key factors in furthering state capture. Through the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), as well as the new approach of opening chapters 23 and 24 earlier in accession negotiations the European Commission and Member States have the potential to push the necessary long-term reforms, beyond the term of a single government. Countries need to have real anti-corruption mechanisms that stand the test and are systematically used to expose illegal wealth.

The civil society, if not controlled by government, private interests or radical movements, could have a central role in monitoring reforms and applying political pressure for change. Additional strong driver of reforms can present the cross-border and regional coalition building, bringing best practices, external expertise and views from lawyers, economists, sociologists.

Events

Strengthening Resilience to Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europe
State Capture: Drivers, Outcomes and Measurement
Enhancing CSOs Advocacy Efforts for Countering Corruption in Critical Sectors in SEE: Leveraging the EU Accession Process and State of the Art Research
Preparation and Improvement of the Draft National Program for Prevention and Reduction of Corruption and Prevention and Reduction of Conflict of Interest 2016 – 2019
Countering Corruption and State Capture for Transparent Energy Governance in SEE

Publications

Anti-Corruption Reloaded: Assessment of Southeast Europe
 
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