Commissioner Várhelyi, Chief Executive Officer Pradhan, Dear friends,
I am pleased to launch with you the EU for Integrity Programme with the European Commission and the Open Government Partnership.
Today, as the world continues to fight the health and economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19, we will be discussing solutions to build a safer and more prosperous world for all.
Integrity is key to these solutions. We need integrity to be effective in our responses to the crisis, but also to re-build trust in national governments, as well as in science and evidence to guide global economic growth to make it inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
At the OECD, we firmly believe that collective action offers the best solutions to our societies’ biggest challenges, including the fight against corruption.
One excellent example of this – the OECD Convention against Foreign Bribery – is a very specific and important tool to stop companies bribing governments of foreign countries where they operate. Some may ask: How can you detect such crimes taking place from far away, how do you provide necessary evidence to your own domestic courts, or how do you sanction companies in a way that helps deter future crimes?
The OECD Working Group on Bribery shows that all of this and more can be done. Over the last 20 years, the Convention has transformed global business. Today, global companies know that integrity and responsible business conduct are expected from them whether they are working in OECD countries or in other parts of the world.
Our colleagues from the European Commission also understand the value of multilateralism. EU enlargement has been one of the biggest geopolitical transformations of the last two decades. Enlargement pursued a very ambitious goal – to bring new countries into the EU as well as up to EU standards in a wide range of social and economic domains, including integrity and anti-corruption.
The OECD is proud to have been a partner and contributed to this endeavour, such as through the Eurasia Regional Programme, which has advanced the dissemination of OECD standards in the region, the OECD-EU SIGMA programme for good public governance, and the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Today we are launching the new “EU for Integrity” Programme, to help Eastern Partnership countries to both benefit from and contribute to multilateral anti-corruption collaboration. EU support for this Programme is proof of a long-term strategic commitment that the OECD fully shares.
EU for Integrity will also open up new opportunities for both the OECD and the countries that the OECD has worked with in the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia including: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. We are committed to deliver the best from the OECD, such as innovation through the development of anti-corruption indicators, rigorous and unbiased examination of countries through peer reviews, high quality analysis and recommendations, and exchange of experience and good practices between anti-corruption, law-enforcement and business integrity practitioners.
This Programme will help our partner countries to move their anti-corruption work to the next level of quality and impact, and will promote their integration into the EU and OECD family. But to get there, partner governments will need to show true commitment to meet the co-operation that is offered. It is important for the future of your countries and citizens.
Improving citizens’ lives is the driving force behind all OECD work. In the Programme we are launching today, the OECD will work hand in hand with the Open Government Partnership (OGP), allowing us to engage with civil society. The OECD and the OGP have a long partnership, and our shared goals are reflected in the OECD Recommendation on Open Government.
Integrity and trust are the bedrock of our society. They are the central pillars of all COVID-19 measures and of recovery strategies. I am confident that our combined efforts will contribute to more integrity and less corruption in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and increase people’s well-being in the region.
I would like to thank the EU, the Open Government Partnership and partner countries for making this Programme a reality. It is an ambitious Programme and we will need to work hard to deliver. The OECD stands with you to ensure that we do.