Italy gets a pass from Transparency International

A positive evaluation of the Italian semester in terms of transparency and anticorruption. That’s what Transparency International writes in its report . However, if on one hand the communication with citizens and stakeholder has been very efficient, on the other hand there is a lack of transparency on the expenses and the budget of the Italian Presidency in the EU. “Transparency usually increases the trust of the citizens and the efficiency of institutions, and it is the harbinger of anticorruption” said Virginio Carnevali, President of Transparency International Italy.

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Anticorruption and anti-laundering topics, the Italian commitment

Italy puts as priorities in its agenda mandate relevant topics of anticorruption: the fight against the money laundering, the transparency in financial flows, the establishment of an European prosecutor (EPPO),  the protection of financial interest of the EU, the inclusion of transparency and anticorruption standards in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). An achievement of the Italian Presidency is the agreement on the Fourth anti-money laundering Directive that established central registers of information on the ultimate "beneficial" owners of corporate and other legal entities, as well as trusts. Even if the member states limited the obligation to register only to the companies and restricted the access to data by the public.
It represents an important step toward transparency, but the target is still far. Only the judiciaries and governmental authorities will be allowed complete access to the central registers, and investigative journalists and organizations that will demonstrate a “legitimate interest” . “We ask the Italian government and the other governments to go beyond the standards established in the European directive and to guarantee a complete access to the public” said Carl Dolan the Director of Transparency International EU Office.
Italy made some steps also on the establishment of a European prosecutor with a large action to pursue the cross border crimes, money laundering and fraud. While the Directive regarding the protection of EU financial interest is still blocked because of the missing agreement on fiscal fraud on VAT and public contracts. However, there are no steps on the inclusion of an anticorruption chapter in the TTIP negotiations between USA and EU, even if the EU Commission expressed interest in that. It is worth noting, Italy actively made the negotiations public, according to the report.

Lack of transparency in the Italian presidency budget

Italy comes back home with a saving of 25 million euro more or less. Indeed from the 56-58 millions expected at the beginning, Italy spent around 30 million euro, half of the Greek and Lithuania expenses. But a lack of transparency in the budget and especially of the communication of the expenses have been documented in the report. It was impossible, according with the study, to access to the expected budget data from the web page of the Italian Presidency. A general budget have been published on the website of the Foreign Affairs Ministry at the beginning of the mandate. While a detailed one on the expenses has been uploaded only after the end of the Italian semester, January 2015, and after a specific request. Always in the Foreign Affairs Ministry website without any link with the Italian presidency official page. In spite of this situation “The officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry were always collaborative to our requests for more transparency” said Chiara Putaturo coordinator of the project for Transparency International Italy.

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