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Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) publishes report on France
[Strasbourg, 12/03/09] - The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) today published its
Third Round Evaluation Report on France. The report has been made public
with the agreement of the country’s authorities. It focuses on two distinct
themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding.
Regarding the criminalisation of corruption (Theme I), GRECO recognises that following various changes, the most recent in December 2007, France has a well developed legal framework that enables it to respond, to a very large extent, to the relevant requirements of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) and its Additional Protocol (ETS 191). France also uses these criminal provisions, which has allowed the development of relevant case-law.
Nevertheless, considerable uncertainty remains as regards the concept of a corruption agreement, in particular as to whether proof of the existence of an agreement must be established in every case. Moreover, France has severely restricted its jurisdiction and its ability to prosecute cases with an international dimension which, given the country's importance in the international economy and the scale of many of its companies, is regrettable.
France has made two reservations to the Convention, which GRECO invites the country to lift or not renew. Other possible improvements concern the length of the limitation period for prosecutions of lesser offences of corruption and trading in influence, as well as the fact that the fines levied in this type of case are not always collected in practice.
Concerning transparency of party funding (Theme II), French legislation on political funding generally implements the provisions under evaluation of Recommendation Rec(2003)4 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns.
France has various rules to ensure a certain level of transparency in the funding of politics, which include supervision and sanctions procedures. No serious divergence between the applicable texts and political practice was noted. Nonetheless, the system does not yet apply to certain fields, such as elections to the Senate and the funding of parliamentary groups. Parties also have significant room for manoeuvre in defining the scope of their accounts, and the role of the political parties’ financial agents could usefully be reinforced.
Furthermore, France has put in place specialist supervisory bodies in the fields of party funding and the fight against corruption, but it is regrettable that it has not always given them genuine powers. There is also a range of administrative and criminal penalties for the vast majority of breaches, but there should ideally be greater flexibility in the allocation of these sanctions according to the gravity of the crime.
The report addresses a total of 17 recommendations to France. GRECO will assess the implementation of these recommendations in the second half of 2010, through its specific compliance procedure.