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The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) publishes its Third Round Evaluation Report on the Netherlands

[Strasbourg, 10/09/08] The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published today its Third Round Evaluation Report on the Netherlands. The report has been made public following the agreement of the authorities. It focuses on two distinct themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding.

Regarding the criminalisation of corruption [theme I], GRECO acknowledges that, on the whole, Dutch legislation complies with the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) and its Additional Protocol (ETS 191). Nevertheless, the sanctions for private sector bribery need to be increased and the offence as such should be aligned more closely to public sector bribery as established under Dutch law. In addition, the Netherlands is urged to analyse whether there is a need, for the sake of legal certainty, to clarify the term ‘public official’ used in the Criminal Code, and is asked to reconsider its position on the reservations it has made to the Convention, regarding trading in influence and jurisdiction. Moreover, GRECO recommends that due priority be given, in the process of political reform currently underway in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to ensuring that the legislation of all countries in the Kingdom is in line with the Convention and its Additional Protocol.

Concerning transparency of party funding [theme II], the current legal framework on the financing of political parties is not in line with the requirements of Recommendation Rec (2003)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns. It should, first and foremost, be ensured that all entities represented in parliament report annually on their financial situation in appropriate detail and that these reports are made available to the general public. Furthermore, the Netherlands is asked to establish independent monitoring of political finance rules and make infringements of these rules subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. A draft law on the Financing of Political Parties, which has been prepared by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, appears to already address a number of GRECO’s concerns and is thus a significant step in the right direction.

The report as a whole addresses 19 recommendations to the Netherlands. GRECO will assess the implementation of these recommendations in the first half of 2010, through its specific compliance procedure.