Governments should establish transparent systems for party and election campaign financing, to avoid the threat of corruption.
In its annual report published today, the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) pinpoints the strengths and weaknesses of member states’ regulatory systems.
GRECO president Marin Mrčela said: “States are taking important steps to fight corruption and increase the transparency of political funding but many improvements are needed.
“Governments must commit both political will and adequate resources, so corruption can be prevented and fought effectively.”
The report reveals that the transparency of donations in kind, party membership fees, loans or sponsorship received by political parties are often neglected by legislation.
Anonymous donations are still possible in some countries. Financial information is often not published nor is it easily accessible. A large number of states fail to have a truly independent supervisory body and in some states such a body does not exist or has limited functions. Sanctions are often weak, inflexible, limited in scope or not applied.
The GRECO report confirms that some states need to replace fragmented laws with comprehensive anti-corruption legislation to strengthen the punishment of bribery and trading in influence offences.
According to the report, private sector bribery is a form of corruption that is not yet criminalised in some countries. Where it is criminalised, the sanctions are often weak. Many countries tend to treat some types of corruption more seriously than others. For example, the sanction for passive bribery in the public sector is often more severe than for the active side of the offence. In several states prosecutions in respect of corruption offences are rare.