Germany should set up stricter rules to better prevent conflicts of interest and improve government transparency, says the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in its Fifth Evaluation Round report on Germany. Germany is a founding member of GRECO, since its establishment in 1999. (see the German version of the report)
With the Anti-Corruption Directive (and its complementary regulations, such as the Anti-Corruption Code of Conduct), Germany has a solid anti-corruption framework in place. Nevertheless, as this framework focuses on the federal administration as a whole, current regulations and policies should be complemented to better target specific integrity issues faced by persons in top executive functions. The report – which concentrates on preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and in law enforcement agencies – evokes the “increasing focus in the media in recent years” on the close relationship between persons with top executive functions and businesses, and “the lack of transparency of the impact of outside influence” over the federal government’s agenda, including through lobbying by persons formerly occupying top executive government functions.
To address these concerns, GRECO calls on Germany to adopt rules to ensure that sufficient information is disclosed on interactions of persons with top executive functions with lobbyists and other third parties seeking to influence the government’s legislative and other activities, acknowledging the “wide public support to further regulate and provide for more transparency of lobbying”. While the report acknowledges the important efforts made to improve transparency with the 2018 Agreement to Increase Transparency of the Legislative Process, this should be further enhanced by disclosing substantive external inputs received before the formal launch of the consultation process.
The report also emphasises a need to introduce clear provisions and guidance for federal ministers and parliamentary state secretaries on the prevention of conflicts of interest. Persons with top executive functions must disclose conflicts between their private interests and official functions in an ad hoc manner, and must disclose their financial interests: for now, these requirements do not exist. In addition, it should be considered to extend the length of the current “cooling off period” for federal ministers and parliamentary state secretaries before they accept a private sector job. More transparency and consistency in the decisions taken in this respect relating to state secretaries and directors general should also be provided.