The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body (GRECO) today expressed disappointment by the very slow progress shown by Austria in implementing its recommendations on measures to prevent corruption in respect of parliamentarians and called on the Austrian parliament to intensify its efforts to address them.
In a report evaluating Austria’s progress in implementing its recommendations to prevent corruption in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors, GRECO concludes that the country has fully complied with only one out of 19 recommendations issued in its 2016 evaluation report. Five have been partly implemented and 13 have not yet been implemented. [see also the report in French and German]
GRECO regrets the low level of compliance with its recommendations in respect of MP´s, although it acknowledges that the parliamentary early election in 2017 has delayed the implementation of a significant number of them concerning rules of conduct, declarations of interests and assets, lobbying and supervisory mechanisms.
At the same time, GRECO notes some positive steps such as improvements in the legislative consultation processes for the elaboration of governmental and parliamentary drafts, that rules of conduct are beeing drafted and that confidential councilors are to be established in the future.
With regard to judges and prosecutors, GRECO welcomes that a number of planned reforms will address its main recommendations. For example, the work programme of the current government for 2017-2022 aims at strengthening transparency and objectivity in the selection of judges. There are also plans to improve the appraisal system of judges and prosecutors as well as the rules on incompatibilities with functions in the executive and legislative branches of power.
Moreover, a working group chaired by the head of the Compliance Department of the Federal Ministry of Constitution, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice is working on additional rules of conduct and guidelines for all justice officials and employees, including judges and prosecutors. There are also ambitious plans for the introduction of a Compliance Management System.
However, none of these improvements have been finalised yet and several intended reforms are still at an early stage. For the time being, the only recommendation fully implemented is the result of assurances provided by the Austrian authorities concerning the publicity of administrative court hearings.
Since Austria’s level of compliance with the recommendations is “globally unsatisfactory”, the country will remain subject to GRECO’s non-compliance procedure. The Austrian authorities should report back about progress achieved by 31 December 2019.