On June 17 2016, Transparency International and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy held an event dedicated to all partners – both NGOs and managing and contracting authorities across the EU – participating in the project Integrity Pacts – Civil Control Mechanism for Safeguarding EU Funds, Phase II – Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning.
The event focused on the vital importance of the public procurement sector at both national and EU level, where 19% of European GDP goes through such procedures. Errors in public procurement are the most common cause of irregularities and financial corrections across all EU funds while corruption impedes the sound management of public resources, competition and decreases citizens’ trust in democratic institutions. Therefore, for the EU, public procurement is a priority area for promoting integrity. In this sense, better procedures and management systems in public procurement can help limit risks related to fraud and corruption in conjunction with more transparency and “red flag”checks throughout a project’s whole life cycle.
The answer to the question what can civil society to in this respect is “Integrity Pacts”. Integrity Pacts are an agreement between a government offering a procurement contract and the companies bidding for it. The pact states that the companies will abstain from bribery, collusion and other corrupt practices during the whole public procurement process. A third party, usually from civil society, then monitors the project from design to completion to ensure that the process is transparent, clean and fair.
In the next four years, Integrity Pacts will be used for 17 individual projects across 11 EU countries to monitor over €920 million of EU co-funded projects. The Pacts will help ensure that structural and cohesion funds reach the communities that they are designed to help in a transparent and cost-efficient manner.
The presentations held at the event are available below:
- Mr. Walter Deffaa, Director-General, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission
- Ms. Anna-Lena Zademach-Schwierz, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission
- Ms. Claire Martin, Integrity Pact Technical Coordinator, Transparency International: Role of Civil Society in Promoting Good Governance in Public Procurement: Lessons Learned
- Mr. François Arbault, Head of Unit, Directorate General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission
- Ms. Iveta Koleva, Road Infrastructure Agency, Bulgaria