On 20 January the Commission launched two calls for evidence asking the public for their views on initiatives in the fight against corruption. A communication on EU anti-corruption policy and a proposal for a directive in the fight against corruption. To ensure transparency and receive a broad range of inputs, stakeholders can reply to the call for evidence in 23 EU languages. The calls remain open for the next four weeks, until 17 February 2023.

Preventing and fighting corruption are amongst the EU’s key political priorities. Corruption is highly damaging to society as a whole, it undermines EU values and weakens EU policies. President Von der Leyen highlighted the need to address corruption in the State of the Union Address 2022, announcing specific initiatives to come forward in an anti-corruption package.

The first initiative, a communication on EU anti-corruption policy, will outline the priorities of the EU in preventing and fighting corruption. It seeks to better protect citizens, improve coordination between authorities in the EU and target risks in specific sectors. The initiative would cover actions at EU level, and support actions at Member State level.

The second initiative, a proposal for a directive on the fight against corruption, is to update the EU legislative framework including by better aligning it with international standards already binding on the EU, mainly the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). EU action would help to ensure a level playing field between Member States. Gaps in existing legislation and limited enforcement mean that stronger coordination and common standards are needed across the EU. Further analysis of the yearly Rule of Law reports conclude that there is also a need for cooperation and capacity to investigate, and to prosecute cross-border corruption cases.

These two initiatives would add to the existing work in the fight against corruption, which is one of the four pillars of the EU’s annual Rule of Law cycle. This includes the specific recommendations issued to each Member State. Corruption has been highlighted as an enabler for other crimes in the EU Security Union Strategy and the EU Strategy to tackle organised crime for 2021-2025. Additionally, it affects economic growth as has been highlighted in the European Semester and is an important theme in the Recovery and Resilience Plans. Corruption is a tool for foreign interference in democratic processes, this is a core target of action being developed in the Defence of Democracy package, included in the Commission Work Programme 2023.