GRECO Expects more Graft-prevention Ambitions from Austria

The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, GRECO, said on Wednesday that Austria should show more ambition in implementing its recommendations on measures to prevent corruption in the parliament and the judiciary.

Austrian ParliamentGRECO believes Austria should do more to prevent possible MP's corruption (Photo: Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA 2.0))The country, according to GRECO’s statement, has fully complied with only one out of 19 recommendations set in 2016, including five recommendations partly implemented and 13 not touched yet.

Austrian authorities, as the country’s media reported, should focus primarily on appointments of judicial personnel, as most exposed to possible political influences.

“The risk of political interference remains a reality in Austria,” Austrian Kurier wrote citing experts.

It noted a case in which requirements for a position of an administrative court chief were completely changed to fit the qualifications of the chief of the office of the head of a local government.

Following “massive public criticism,” the cabinet chief reportedly did not get the judicial post, but became, instead, head of a local assembly.

GRECO, however, said it welcomes that a number of planned reforms will address its main recommendations, “for example, the work programme of the current government for 2017-2022 aims at strengthening transparency and objectivity in the selection of judges.”

It also welcomes Austria’s plans to improve the appraisal system of judges and prosecutors as well as the rules on incompatibilities with functions in the executive and legislative branches of power.

On the other side, the European Council’s anti-graft body expressed regret over “the low level of compliance with its recommendations in respect of MP’s, although it acknowledges that the parliamentary early election in 2017 has delayed the implementation of a significant number of them concerning rules of conduct, declarations of interests and assets, lobbying and supervisory mechanisms.”

As Austria did not show expected speed in implementing the GRECO’s recommendations, with the level of compliance deemed as “globally unsatisfactory,” the country will remain subject to GRECO’s non-compliance procedure.

The Austrian authorities are therefore expected to file a new report on progress by the end of this year.