On June 6, 2019, the Commission submitted a request to the Council of Europe for the EU to become observer in the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). At the same time, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council decision to this effect and it informed the European Parliament of the steps that it is taking. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “This year, the Group of States Against Corruption will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The European Union’s participation in the GRECO as an observer would bring the European Union and Council of Europe closer. It would also reinforce our joint efforts to strengthen the rule of law”. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Corruption is an insidious threat to the security of European citizens and the health of our democracies and our economies. We need to work together – both at grassroots, and, also at international levels – to effectively combat this phenomenon. Being able to participate in the framework created by the Council of Europe is the right step forward.”
The EU’s participation in GRECO, a group that primarily aims to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption, has been a priority for cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe. Currently, the EU is not a member of GRECO and is not present in GRECO meetings. This means that cooperation between the EU and GRECO and its members in the area of rule of law and the fight against corruption has been limited.
As an observer, the EU would be able to participate in GRECO meetings and have access to all documents discussed. The EU seeking observer status does not preclude other possible forms of participation as a full member in the future. The Commission requested that the GRECO Plenary meeting considers the EU’s request at the next plenary meeting scheduled for 17-21 June 2019. The Plenary session will be preceded by a high-level conference on 17 June marking the Group’s 20th anniversary in which First Vice-President Timmermans will take part. The final decision will be taken in accordance with GRECO’s internal procedures.