By Angelos Anastasiou
Cyprus has implemented satisfactorily only two of eight recommendations on political party-funding transparency, the European Council’s Group of States against Corruption committee – also known as GRECO – said on Wednesday.
In its third-round compliance report on Cyprus, GRECO found that “all six remaining recommendations are now partly implemented”.
“Cyprus has not made sufficient or decisive progress in terms of recommendations fully implemented, since the first compliance report was adopted two years ago,” the report concluded.
“The vast majority of recommendations remain partly implemented. Under these circumstances, GRECO has no choice but to consider the situation as ‘globally unsatisfactory’,” the committee charged.
GRECO’s report covered two main themes, incriminations and transparency of party funding.
The incriminations theme was further broken down into three points: the criminalization of corruption, accessibility of criminal provisions, and harmonization with European anti-corruption legislation.
While some steps were taken in the direction of satisfying the theme’s first point, these “remained insufficient”, and “more determined steps are necessary in order to fully harmonise the existing legislation” with regard to points two and three.
“The only new information supplied concerns police training [regarding the fight and protection against corruption] but GRECO cannot conclude that it is fulfilling the objective of the present recommendation,” the report noted.
“In any event, Cyprus does not provide data showing the increased effectiveness of the incriminations.”
The committee’s second theme – transparency of party funding – listed six recommendations, one of which had been deemed satisfactorily implemented earlier, two had been partly implemented, and three had not been implemented.
A recommendation on parties to publish comprehensive accounting of their income, expenditure, assets, and debts, under a consistent format, remains at discussion stage in parliament, and GRECO ruled it partly implemented.
Another, establishing a clear and independent supervision mechanism on income and expenditure during election campaigns, was also deemed partly implemented.
But three additional recommendations, previously ruled not implemented – namely, the public disclosure of all individual donations above a specific amount together with the identity of the sponsor, the public disclosure of monetary or non-monetary income and expenditure relating to election campaigns, and the introduction of flexible sanctions for failure to submit election statements – were also promoted to partly implemented, as Cyprus authorities were found to be planning steps towards more effective compliance.
Despite the apparent improvement in compliance with GRECO recommendations, the report conclusions left much to be desired.
“Cyprus has not used the extra time since the first compliance report to adopt new pertinent measures supporting the effective application of its criminal law provisions on corruption-related offences, to make the legal framework more accessible and to improve its uniformity,” GRECO said.
“In relation to [transparency of party funding], progress has been slow even though Cyprus is visibly committed to pass a series of amendments to improve transparency and supervision of political financing,” it added.
“The country has prepared a new set of amendments to the Political Parties Law which still needs to be adopted by parliament (and subsequently enforced).”