Not all civil society members voted for the adoption of the first report of the Anti-Corruption Working Group
The delegates of Transparency International Hungary, K-Monitor and Átlátszó voted no, and two other civil society members abstained from Monday’s vote on the first annual report of the Anti-Corruption Working Group established under the Integrity Authority. Átlátszó did not vote for the report prepared in a rush because the government side did not support our proposal to investigate the press relations of certain prominent state bodies, or more precisely the discrimination of certain press products, and presented the legal restrictions implemented in a series of the past ten years in the area of public interest data as a “civil position” .
Ferenc Bíró, the president of the Integrity Authority, considers it of symbolic significance that the Anti-Corruption Working Group, made up of civil and government members, accepted its first annual report and made forward-looking proposals to curb corruption with the support of both sides. The report, prepared in three months, with hard work, will be submitted to the government, says the press release of the Integrity Authority.
The body, which is made up of civil and government members working alongside the Integrity Authority, held its inaugural meeting in December last year and established five continuously working sub-working groups on public procurement, EU and national support programs, public data disclosure and transparency, criminal law and criminal procedure, and agenda and monitoring. As an NGO, Átlátszó could also delegate a member to the Working Group.
Atlatszo selected to participate in the newly established Integrity Authority’s anti-corruption working group – English
The Integrity Authority was not set up voluntarily by the Hungarian government, but it was forced to do so by the European Union: this was one of 17 commitments to fight corruption and waste of public money that the European Commission made conditional on Hungary continuing to receive EU funds.
In its first report on last year, the working group consisting of civil and government members formulated proposals to curb corruption: some of them were included in the final text as “consensus” proposals of the governmental and civil delegates, and another part as “non-consensus” proposals of the civil delegates . Consensus proposals were made, for example, to expand the scope of the asset acquisition investigation, in the case of suspicion of bribery and influence-peddling crimes.
Some non-governmental members of the Working Group did not vote for the adoption of the report: the delegates of Transparency International Hungary, K-Monitor and Átlátszó voted no, and two other civilian members abstained during Monday’s vote.
According to the civil members who voted no, the members of the Working Group representing government bodies did not support the inclusion of many findings showing the seriousness of corruption in Hungary in the report. Such findings appear in the report solely as the views of non-governmental members. Thus, for example, the report shows the ineffectiveness of government measures regarding asset declarations since last year as “the position of civil society members”, as well as the legal restrictions that have been implemented in a series of the last ten years regarding the availability of data of public interest.
Also lacking the support of government members are a number of civil proposals that, if implemented, could actually be expected to reduce the level of corruption, and which are therefore included in the report as “non-consensus” proposals. This happened, among other things, with a civil proposal aimed at revising the public finance provisions of the Basic Law. The members of the government did not support the civil proposal regarding the investigation of the press relations of certain prominent state bodies, or more precisely the discrimination of certain press products, as well as the proposal that a contract concluded with public money can only be paid after its full disclosure.
On the other hand, the civilian delegates who voted against the adoption of the report supported all the proposals of the government members, and by voting against the adoption of the report, they voiced their dissatisfaction due to the above.
Written and translated by Tamás Bodoky. Hungarian version. The author is a civilian member of the Anti-Corruption Working Group as a delegate of Átlátszó. Cover photo: Theophilos Papadopoulos, flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0