GRECO 77th plenary meeting

Strasbourg, 16-18 October 2017

 

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is a pleasure for me to open the 77th plenary meeting of GRECO. This meeting is unusually short, so I will be brief to make the best use of our time, but am available to answer any questions you may have.

Regarding the reduced duration of this GRECO plenary, you are aware that the Russian Federation has decided to suspend payment of the outstanding balance of its 2017 budgetary contribution to the Council of Europe. This has a direct impact on the budgets of the Organisation and, even more so, on those of Partial/Enlarged Agreements, as the latter cannot benefit from any supplement from the ordinary budget of the Council of Europe. The financial resources available to GRECO are therefore simply reduced by the amount of the outstanding contribution, which is quite high.

The result is reduced activities and the inability to deliver on your full work programme. I sincerely regret this state of affairs which is beyond the control of your Secretariat and the Directorate General. The ongoing efforts to find a solution at political level will hopefully soon yield results. Until then, we have to exercise financial restraint while supporting you in your work to the best of our abilities.

Let me now turn to the substance of your work. Just looking at the news every day, it is clear that corruption allegations continue to spare no country or organisation. Corruption remains a threat to democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law which makes your work more important and relevant than ever. This relevance is recognised at the highest political level in the Council of Europe, as well as in our member states as witnessed by the exchange of views you will have with the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Mr. Fico, on Wednesday. It is a sign of the political importance Slovakia attaches to your work and we should all be proud of it.

You have on your agenda the draft 4th Round Evaluation Report on the Russian Federation and several compliance reports. I am sure you will work as efficiently as you can under the able direction of your President to finalise as many of them as possible. Evaluation and compliance reports are the core of your work and are appreciated as a candid, professional and to-the-point assessment of the situation in any given country. I have no doubt that all the countries concerned by this week’s procedures will participate constructively in the discussions and that you will adopt another set of reports which, ultimately, aim not at criticizing for the sake of it, but at promoting improvements, progress and positive changes.

Your evaluation of our own Parliamentary Assembly’s integrity framework has been praised by everyone, including the Assembly itself. I trust that the Assembly will review its ethical norms in light of your recommendations and will implement them without delay. This will be key for its credibility and for the confidence Europeans place in this Organisation. I know you also have on your agenda this week a draft expertise on the ethical framework of our Conference of INGOs which has asked for your advice: looking at the other side of the coin and the need to make sure that those who interact with the Council of Europe do so within a clear, sound and transparent framework. I hope you will have sufficient time to finalise it at this meeting.

Externally, I am glad to see the increased cooperation GRECO is having with external partners. The exchanges of views you will have this week with the German G20 and the Italian G7 Presidencies are an example. On a number of items which are central to the work of the G20 and G7 - such as conflicts of interest, lobbying, asset declaration, corruption prevention in the judiciary or in sport, political financing - GRECO has developed a solid body of recommendations which could inform the work of both the G20 and the G7.

Three weeks ago I had the privilege to visit the Independent Commission against corruption in Hong Kong.  The Commissioner expressed his appreciation of GRECO’s work as well as his keen interest in closer co-operation in future.

[I would also like to inform you of the unanimous decision by the Committee of Ministers on 27 September to accept the request by Tunisia to be invited to join GRECO. We are now in the process of consulting Belarus and the United States. Should this consultation be positive, Tunisia may be GRECO’s 50th member, and the first from the North African region. This is an important achievement on both sides on the Mediterranean.]

Finally, let me inform you that the 2018 edition of the Secretary General’s Report on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law is likely to have, as a main thread across its chapters, anti-corruption and GRECO’s findings and recommendations. This is a clear sign of both the importance the top management of this Organisation attaches to your work and the relevance of GRECO’s evaluations.

To conclude, I, together with your Secretariat, will happily answer any questions you might have.   

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

-o0o-

 Director General 
Christos Giakoumopoulos

Mandate   Organigramme


 
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