Luxembourg needs to step up anti-corruption compliance, a watchdog said on 6 November
Luxembourg’s parliament, government and justice system need to step up anti-corruption protections, reports by an international watchdog published on Friday conclude.
The Group of States Against Corruption (Greco) is the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body and carries out regular surveys among its 50 members, issuing recommendations and following-up on their implementation.
In its latest report on corruption among members of parliament, judges and prosecutors, Greco looked into ten measures it had previously proposed, finding that Luxembourg had “made no progress” in fully implementing them since the last interim compliance report in March 2019.
It identified shortcomings in reporting contact between lawmakers and lobbyists, monitoring breaches of a parliamentary code of conduct and the declaration of financial assets that could result in conflicts of interest.
MPs “it would appear, are not ready to fill the persistent gaps in their system of declarations, the mechanism for monitoring MPs’ declarations and the rules governing MPs’ contact with third parties,” the report said.
It also criticised that provisions to enshrine the independence of the public prosecutor into law had been erased from a reform of the Luxembourg constitution, meaning it will remain under the auspices of the justice ministry. “It calls on the Luxembourg authorities to review their position on this matter,” Greco said.
A second report on corruption in government and law enforcement was somewhat more positive. Greco found that eight of 20 recommendations had been implemented, with another ten at least partially implemented.
Areas of progress included a new code of conduct for members of government and better access to documents for citizens. However, both systems remain flawed.
The ethics committee charged with supervising the implementation of the code of conduct had warned that some provisions were impossible to police, including a two-year ban on using information gained during the time in government to gain an advantage.
The issue came to the fore when economy minister Etienne Schneider stepped down from government in February and assumed several lucrative board positions in the private sector.
And even though the Commission on Access to Documents earlier this year had said the government should make public a Memorandum of Understanding with internet giant Google on a planned data centre, the government ignored the advice, which is within its legal rights. Environmental organization Mouvement Ecologique is now seeking access to the document through legal proceedings at court.
Plans for a lobby register for government officials also fell short of expectations, Greco said. While the register would note meetings sought by interest groups, under current plans it would not chronicle meetings scheduled by the ministers themselves, Greco warned. Additionally, it said that more detail should be given on the topics discussed. “Greco calls on the Luxembourg authorities to amend the codes to remedy these shortcomings,” it said.