OLAF Round Table on Anti-fraud Communication

How information and communication can be a means of EU fraud prevention and a true service to the citizens in the respect of their rights ?

This Round Table, on Anti-Fraud Communication (How Information and Communication can be a means of EU fraud prevention and a true service for the citizens in the respect of their rights?) is addressed, in particular, to experts of institutional communications (more specifically in anti-fraud, police and other law enforcement matters, etc.), academia (legal, economic, journalistic and communication fields), members of investigative and judicial services (national and international), members of European Institutions, journalists and any other person with specific experience in these fields.

They are invited to submit to OLAF their own written contributions by October 31, 2004. A selection of contributions shall be published on the OLAF website and some of these may be published in print format and eventually translated into other languages.

See the contributions

A. OLAF's Anti-Fraud Communication and Public Relations Strategy :

OLAF was created in 1999, with a special statute of independence for its investigative powers, in order to fight against fraud, corruption and other irregularities affecting the Community’s financial interests. In this framework, the Office has elaborated its own independent information and communication strategy.

This strategy was put in place in close cooperation with the members of the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) represented by senior spokespersons from member states anti-fraud agencies. It also takes into consideration recent information received from European citizens on the basis of the Eurobarometer survey results entitled “Attitudes related to defrauding the European Union and its budget.”

B. The principal objectives of this strategy are the following :

  • To furnish a service to European citizens on what is being achieved to protect the Community budget (made-up of European citizens’ money - taxpayers);
  • To provide information to the general public (in particular through the media) relating to the fight against fraud and irregularities to the detriment of the EU financial interests, from evasion of taxes and duties that make up the European Budget, to the misuse of financial assistance provided by the Community, entailing a real and substantial loss to the European taxpayer;
  • To prevent fraud through the "free-flow" of information ("prevention is better than a cure") and to inform European citizens of what OLAF & its operational partners in the Member States and in the Candidate countries are doing both jointly and individually in order to protect their financial interests.

The key words associated with information and communication policies are “transparency, service for the citizens and prevention”. The only limit regarding transparency is (and must be) the strict respect of the Community regulations and national laws concerning the ongoing investigations, confidentiality and secrecy. Last, but not least, another limit involves the respect and protection of the fundamental freedoms and rights of individuals.

Despite the many strict rules which govern the information and communication policies of the investigative services (which does not refer only to media relations, but also to general information activities, publications, videos, internet, etc.), we often see diverse points of view determined from various perspectives, influenced by national cultures, professional attitudes, etc.

Largely, and referring to the most extreme points of view, we believe that there are currently two main categories of thought. On one hand, there are those who would like everything to be published, from the beginning of the investigative work onwards. On the other hand, there are those who prefer investigative services always remaining silent and not having communication tools.

See the contributions

C. Topics relating to this Round Table:

Unit 0.2-“Communication, Public Relations and Spokesman” of OLAF would like to contribute by giving attention to these two diverse points of view, by mediating a discussion. For this reason, OLAF has decided to open a debate on this topic, through the publication on our website of articles that touch upon the following points:

  1. For - Information and communication: Why should an investigative service have the power and the duty to communicate on its work and what are its limits?
  2. Against - Information and communication: Why should an investigative service always remain silent and never communicate on its work?
  3. Rights/duties of information, rights/duties of the investigations secrecy: Where is the proper equilibrium?
  4. Audio-visual information and communication of the investigative services: television, tabloids and financial inquiries.
  5. Why does informing and communicating also mean fighting and preventing fraud?
  6. "Information Partnership": A free media must question the performance of public institutions. This can build walls between journalists and institutional spokespersons. But is it possible, through the development of mutual trust and professional respect to have a shared objective to tell a story fully and with frankness? What is the give and take in such a "partnership"? What are the risks?

See the contributions

D. To whom is this Round Table addressed ?

This Round Table is addressed, in particular, to experts of institutional communication (more specifically in anti-fraud, police and other law enforcement matters, etc.), academia (legal, economic, journalistic and communication fields), members of investigative and judicial services (national and international), members of European Institutions, journalists and any other person dealing with specific experience in these such fields.

E. How to send your contribution:

Those who are interested in participating in this Round Table are asked to send their own contributions, on one of the above points (making reference to it), at the latest on October 31, 2004, via e-mail to: olaf-press@ec.europa.eu, writing “ROUND TABLE” in the subject line.

The contributions must be in one of the following languages: English, French, German, Spanish or Italian. They should not, in principle, be longer than 5 typed pages in A4 format, Arial font, size 11, single spaced, and must contain at the beginning the following details:

  • name and surname;
  • academic or professional title;
  • function;
  • name of the service/Institution/organism/university;
  • telephone number;
  • e-mail address;

It is understood that the articles and other contributions to this Round-Table reflect only the opinion of their respective author(s) and not the opinion of OLAF.

A hard copy of the contribution must also be posted to:

European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Unit 0.2 “Communication, Public Relation, Spokesman”
Ms. Nathalie TOCABENS
30, rue Joseph II
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium

The contribution must be accompanied by a signed authorisation for eventual print publication and for a transfer of all copyrights to the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Some of these may be published in print format and eventually translated into other languages. The submission of contributions implies the acceptance of the General Rules.

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