In an evaluation report published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) called for Finland to strengthen its systems to prevent and detect corrupt behaviour in central governments (including the top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies.
Finland traditionally scores high in perception surveys on the fight against corruption and risks of actual bribery are considered to be low or non-existent. However, recent scandals in public life, including a major corruption scheme in the Helsinki Police, have put into question whether what has been considered the most prominent instrument of Finland to combat corruption, i.e. trust, is in itself alone a sufficiently preventive anti-corruption tool. The Police is encouraged to strengthen its internal control processes to better manage corruption risks. The Border Guard could also take the opportunity to engage in an inclusive dialogue within its ranks regarding its integrity policy and the way forward. Finland needs yet to develop an overarching protection system for whistleblowers, an issue that is decisively important for law enforcement.
GRECO recommends establishing clear standards of conduct for ministers and senior government officials. It is important that the Government becomes more proactive in developing its members’ awareness of their specific integrity challenges and in improving the management of conflicts of interest, all the more given the privatisation processes underway. GRECO further asks the Finnish authorities to strengthen procedures for holding government ministers legally responsible for law breaches.
Finally, an anticorruption strategy is in the pipeline for the period 2017-2021 and awaits government approval, but political consensus on this matter has not yet been reached. Its expedited adoption and subsequent implementation is needed.
The implementation of the recommendations addressed to Finland will be assessed by GRECO in 2019 through its compliance procedure.