Governance, PAR challenged to “legitimize” themselves under an MDG framework
“ The translation of the Millennium Goals related to reducing poverty into country-level policies and strategies as well as the elaboration and implementation of plans and effective and efficient actions require not only the political commitment of leaders at all levels but also the innovations and re-adjustments in governance and public administration institutions to align them with the exigencies of poverty reduction.”
Aide-mémoire, Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting – “Innovations in Governance and Public Administration for Poverty Reduction” (Feb. 2003)
"Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law. It leads to violations of human rights. It erodes public trust in government. It can even kill – for example, when corrupt officials allow medicines to be tampered with, or when they accept bribes that enable terrorist acts to take place. […] It has adverse effects on the delivery of basic social services. It has a particularly harmful impact on the poor. And it is a major obstacle to achieving our Millennium Development Goals."
Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General, at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, 2007
Governance reforms in Eastern Europe – a quick story of the last 20 years: act one
Communist legacy: largely non-monetized corruption
Early post-communist transition: pervasive corruption, criminalization of state structures, predatory privatization of public assets
Petty / administrative corruption disproportionately affects the poor (has the effect of a regressive tax); grand corruption fundamentally affects state authority, social fabric / public morale and diverts scarce resources
Corruption dealt with under Political criteria – Democracy & Rule of Law ( Anti-corruption Policy section), occasionally also under Human Rights and protection of minorities (e.g. corruption among prison staff)
Also referred to under Economic criteria (functioning market economy; capacity to cope with competitive pressure within the EU) and other sections:
for candidates: under Ability to Assume the Obligations of Membership (e.g. public procurement, taxation, Judiciary and fundamental rights, customs union, financial control, financial and budgetary provisions)
for potential candidates: under EU standards on Internal Market (e.g. customs&taxation, public procurement), Sectoral Policies (e.g. financial control), Justice, Freedom and Security (e.g. money laundering, fighting organized crime and terrorism
Positive: political will; laws adopted/amended; institutions established/strengthened; reports issued; meetings held (input-type); investigations initiated (but usually not finalized with court convictions)
Negative: lack of political will; legal and institutional frameworks still deficient, not aligned to int’l standards; lack of convictions; insufficient monitoring of politicians (e.g. asset declarations, MPs exemptions); reference to specific corruption cases (!)
the famous “implementation gap” explains something…
… but still doesn’t explain all
EU accession conditionalities? Conventional story: CEE countries did the right thing on anti-corruption while they were under pressure from the EU before accession… and slid back as soon as the pressure decreased after getting “into the club”
In the pre-accession period candidate countries were under external pressure
… thus, had “political will” to act on corruption…
… and did the right thing (and promised to do more)
but after joining the EU there was no more pressure and “political will” vanished…
they backtracked on promises and even reversed some AC measures
Slovenia - lawmakers have been trying to close down the commission for the prevention of corruption, run by Drago Kos, arguing that it is expensive and unnecessary; at all public watchdogs staff salaries were cut by a third
Latvia – politically motivated attempt by the PM to replace the head of KNAB in 2007 (later replaced in 2008 by Parliament with stronger justification)
Slovakia – the justice minister called the special AC court, which has highly paid, security-vetted judges, a "fascist institution". His party, a junior member of the ruling coalition, eventually succeeded in having it deemed unconstitutional. But the most spectacular cases are still in the Balkans
Romania – replacement of Monica Macovei as Justice minister three months after joining EU; National Integrity Agency law ruled unconstitutional in 2010
Bulgaria – no high-level corruption conviction, none of the 120 mafia killings solved, large scale fraud with EU funds
Corruption was high on their accession agenda as well, AC efforts monitored through Progress Reports
Romania (4 benchmarks on judicial reform, fight against corruption) and Bulgaria (6 benchmarks on judicial reform, fight against corruption and organized crime) still monitored through the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism
reports issued every 6 months (until mid 2009), next due in summer 2010
“ The approach, recommendations and requirements of the EC in the arena of anti-corruption policy in candidate States have been focused on elites, top-down anti-corruption strategies pursued with adequate “political will”, enforcement of criminal law and establishment of functioning control mechanisms mainly to control the use of EU funds”
general orientation towards control paradigm (strong emphasis on criminal enforcement)
expectations of immediate results
the Commission lacks a clear sense of what it means by corruption, and therefore what would constitute successful anti-corruption policy
EU lacks benchmarks for assessing corruption in member States… absence of clearly binding acquis in the area of corruption
… does not appear to employ a consistent approach across candidate countries when citing survey data… some ambiguity in the Commission’s interpretation of statistics… unspecified evidence
The Commission’s assessments of the prevalence of corruption, in which the seriousness of corruption in candidate countries is classified according to statements ranging from “relatively limited problem” through “area of concern” to “widespread and systemic” are clearly intuitive.
Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Corruption and Anti-corruption Policy, OSI-EUMAP, 2002
assessments are highly political, rather than technical / objective
emphasis on law enforcement (vs. prevention)
overall legalistic approach
emphasis on showing quick results (vs. systemic improvements)
“ Some fundamental improvements are needed, although the first priority should be to deliver results irrespective of structural deficiencies” – CVM report for Bulgaria, July 2008
“ political will” over-emphasized
shortcuts vs. normal procedures (e.g. fast-track adoption of laws, govt decrees) => institutions are weakened, not strengthened
Romania example (“ Opriti codurile ! ”, 2009)
issue of sustainability
politicization of anti-corruption (EC takes sides!)
emphasis on government’s driving role, may undermine separation of powers
Sustainability of AC reforms - Slovakia Controversy and sustainability of anticorruption reforms in Slovakia Source: Miroslav Beblavý (2008) significant - reversal of introduced changes and also the reform was not completed low high 13. Health care reform limited - introduction of some changes medium high 12. Tax reform limited - steps to limit capacity growth, but given demographic developments, not likely to have much impact high low 11. Increasing capacity of education system None high high 10. Change in the political party financing None high medium 9. Introduction of case management techniques in the judiciary limited, with potential to be significant - decreasing pay for Special Court judges, Constitutional Court challenges medium high 8. Special prosecutor and special court for corruption offences None high low 7. Increasing internal and external audit in local and regional self-governments None high low 6. Increasing public involvement in the policy consultation process None high low 5. Company register reform limited - extending scope for discretionary activities medium low 4. Limiting discretion in active labour market policy None high high 3. Bank privatization none (but periodically reappearing) high high 2. Freedom-of-information law None high medium 1. Fees for accelerated service in the land registry subsequent changes influencing anticorruption impact sustainability initial controversy Reform
13 case studies researched in Slovakia in 2007 and 2008, each focused on a policy reform that was postulated to have impact on corruption.
Corruption can be decreased; substantial sector-based decrease in corruption is possible even in a country where the corruption is extensive.
In Slovakia, anticorruption reforms focused on decreasing benefits of corruption rather than increasing costs of corruption and effective reforms have usually done more than increase transparency and availability of information – they also used one of the following three approaches: liberalisation/privatisation, limiting discretion and increasing supply/decreasing demand. The Slovak experience of 1998-2006 shows that sustained effort can bring about significant improvements in corruption if it is linked with overall reform of the economy and governance structures.
In Slovakia, despite the importance of the process of EU accession, the role of external actors was much more important in policy transfer and technical assistance than in forcing the reform through conditionality. Even the strongest of conditionalities was present only in a minority of reforms and the political will to enact the reforms was mostly home-grown. On the other hand, the role of external actors in inspiring and/or designing reforms was crucial and was present in ALL the reforms that were graded as having high or medium effect on corruption.
The level of controversy is not a good guide to sustainability of the reforms. Surprisingly, the ideologically charged changes have high levels of sustainability even when they were initially controversial and the steps that have proven to be less sustainable are those where specific interest groups remain opposed and where the reform has not managed to create a powerful constituency in favour of the new status quo.