Czech Republic ranks last on European anti-corruption index; ignored warnings

GRECO claims that no recommendations were fully implemented by the Czech government to fight corruption

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 05.06.2020 10:06 (updated on 05.06.2020)

The Czech Republic is in the last place when it comes to meeting anti-corruption recommendations in 2019, according to an evaluation of 42 countries by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption unit.

The annual ranking assesses Council members’ progress in preventing corruption by legislators, judges, and prosecutors. The Czech Republic was among 15 countries the were subject to a non-compliance procedure in the fourth round by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body. The fourth evaluation round began in 2012.

The others found in non-compliance were Armenia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Turkey.

The Czech Republic was among three countries that did not fully implement any GRECO recommendations. The other two were Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. The Czech government partly implemented 50% of the GRECO recommendations and failed to implement any of the remaining 50%.

Finland and Norway did best in the annual report, fulfilling 100% of the Council’s recommendations.

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— Council of Europe office in Brussels (@CoEinBrussels) June 3, 2020

GRECO urges governments and public-office holders to act in an exemplary way by respecting anti-corruption measures and transparency standards.

The annual report reviews the measures to prevent corruption taken in member states regarding parliamentarians, judges, and prosecutors, as well as in central governments — including top executive functions — and law enforcement agencies.

“Corruption undermines citizens’ trust in democracy and in democratic institutions. Implementing effective anti-corruption measures and promoting integrity and transparency should, therefore, be a priority for public authorities at all times. States have made progress, but they should step up their efforts to fully implement GRECO´s recommendations,” Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić said in a press release.

GRECO’s president Marin Mrčela expressed concern about widespread corruption allegations in many countries concerning persons in charge of public institutions in recent years. “No person, state, or institution is immune to corruption. Politicians, irrespective of their political affiliation, need to lead by example and it is exemplarity which is expected of them. Politicians are meant to serve, not to rule, the people,” he said.

In 2019, compliance with GRECO recommendations under the fourth evaluation round slightly increased: 36% of recommendations had been fully implemented by the end of year. The recommendations with the lowest level of compliance continued to be those issued in respect of MPs (27%), while it was higher in respect of judges (37%) and prosecutors (46%).

“This explains to a large extent why people’s trust in politics is very low and will be even lower if politicians don’t step up their compliance with integrity standards,” Mrčela said.

Since the fourth evaluation round began, nearly half of GRECO’s member states have carried out constitutional reforms following its recommendations. GRECO member states have carried out over 150 concrete legislative, regulatory, or institutional reforms to implement GRECO recommendations.

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According to the report, GRECO continued to make progress in the evaluation of the prevention of corruption in governments and law enforcement agencies: 18 countries had been evaluated by the end of 2019. GRECO often found shortcomings in the way countries dealt with lobbying, conflicts of interest, and “revolving doors” in central governments, including the need to extend anti-corruption measures to advisers.

GRECO’s recommendations on law enforcement agencies referred mostly to codes of conduct, promotion and dismissal, conflicts of interest, post-employment restrictions, and the protection of whistleblowers.

GRECO is an acronym for the French phrase groupe d’États contre la corruption, meaning group of states against corruption. It is a Council of Europe body that aims to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with anti-corruption standards. It helps states to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. Currently, it comprises the 47 Council of Europe member states, plus Belarus, Kazakhstan and the United States of America, according to its website.