Report of the third meeting of the Working Group (WG) "Prevention of corruption through civil society participation” April 8, 2019.
The objective of this meeting was to share good practices from NGOs in Romania and Malta.
The two guests, Ms. Laura Stefan, Anti-Corruption Program Coordinator of the Expert Forum (EFOR), a Romanian NGO and Mr. Manuel Dalia, blogger and independent political journalist from Malta, shared their country's experiences.
Ms. Laura Stefan presented two programs her organization is developing in Romania: "The Political Clientele Map" and "The School of Democracy".
The "Political Clientele Map" shows all government allocations and transfers provided to municipalities and county councils from reserve and intervention funds, as well as
funds managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MDRAP). In Romania there are 3200 local authorities and some of them are small and do not have a sufficient budget. They depend in particular on funding provided by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration. The Ministry funds local infrastructure projects, but it is very difficult to obtain funding if the mayor and local government are from opposition parties.
Ms. Stefan pointed out that public companies are also sources of corruption because they have very high budgets, some of which are higher than those of ministries. There are no regulations that control their procurement procedures.
Very often, the government does not take the funds allocated to Romania by the EU because the EU checks how the money is being used. As corruption is too high, the government cannot or will not be accountable to the EU.
Ms. Stefan considers that the Council of Europe assesses corruption in member countries, but the European Union does not do anything about it. (GRECO Report on Romania (2017): https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/168077e159)
In Romania, it was a period when the fight against corruption was strong, when trials and corrupt politicians went to prison. However, this has not stopped corruption because it is systemic. There have been cases where errors in trials have occurred and these situations have damaged the anti-corruption movement. Trials must be fair and must not infringe civil liberties.
For more information on “Map of Clientelism in Romania”, please see the link bellow:
The second program of the Expert Forum Ms. Stefan presented, was "The School of Democracy". Like all the projects of her organization, it took into consideration the need to involve citizens in public life, in the decision-making process, as well as in the monitoring of decision-makers. The Expert Forum supports the development of civic capacities and implements a series of initiatives dedicated to youth, and" The School of Democracy" is one of them. This program aims to create an innovative learning environment for teachers who want to discover alternative and effective tools for active education and which involves the active participation of young people.
The "School for Democracy" includes a training seminar and the implementation of civic projects in schools and communities in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Topics discussed include: non-formal learning methods, leadership, democracy and the rule of law, good governance, populism, clientelism, public participation, active citizenship, public and advocacy mechanisms, project writing and implementation, dissemination of results and best practices.
To conclude her speech, Ms. Laura Stefan said that civil society, and especially NGOs, can organize information campaigns for citizens, give hope that corruption can be avoided and that things can change.
For more information concerning “The School for Democracy” program, please see the link bellow:
Mr. Manuel Dalia spoke about the high level corruption that exists in Malta and the cause of death of investigative journalist Daphne Caurana Galizia who discovered and informed the public about corruption at the governmental level since the election of the current Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat in 2013.
Daphne Caurana Galizia died in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017. After her death, people took to the streets to protest but nothing happened.
Mr. Dalia explained that Maltese television channels belong to political parties because of the fact that media coverage is controlled. That is why the leading newspapers in Europe and the United States have launched the Daphne project to keep the stories of Daphne Caruana Galizia alive.
In Malta, there are 27 international banks and only one accountant is responsible for their supervision. But a real investigation occurs, only if other countries will discover a criminal event or fraud in their country: e.g. Pilatus Bank which was closed after the investigation undertaken by the FBI at the same bank in the United States. The general argument is that the fight against corruption is bad for business because Malta is a tax haven and if these banks are not allowed, they can go elsewhere. The GRECO Report on Malta gives more information about this topic: https://rm.coe.int/grecoeval5rep-2018-6-fifth-evaluation-round-preventing-corruption-and-/168093bda3
Mr Dalia closed his presentation by saying that in his country, journalists who publish information on corruption are accused of being traitors.
For more information about the situation in Malta, kindly click on Manuel Delia Notes on Corruption in Malta.
Mr. Hugo Castelli Eyre, representative of the European Network of Church on the Move EN-RE, who is a member of the Working Group, but could not participate to the WG session, sent by e-mail the text that the Plataforma por la Justicia Fiscal sent to Spanish political parties presenting candidates for State, municipal and autonomous regional elections on 28 April 2019, calling for a national alliance against tax fraud. The text includes 2 basic messages: 1) income tax cuts only benefit the richest, but they hurt 95% of the population because there is less money for social services; 2) Tax havens seriously damage countries' economies. The Plataforma is creating short videos with a great impact to explain this problem.