OLAF /07/02 IP/07/172 Brussels, 12 February 2007
The seminar, held in Brussels from 12 to 16 February, will focus on the investigative powers of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), as well as the EU budget and its protection in general. The seminar is being organised by OLAF, in co-operation with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas welcomed the initiative: "Dialogue between anti-fraud services and journalists is an example of transparency and openness in practice. Communication can help deter and prevent fraud and irregularities by raising awareness and educating citizens about the risks that economic crime poses to them."
"The work of journalists can help to uncover cases of fraud, corruption and other illegal activities damaging the financial interests of the European Communities, about which EU citizens have a right to know," OLAF Director General Franz-Hermann Brüner said.
The Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists, Mr. Aidan White, pointed out: "Journalists and investigators work best when both groups have a professional relationship based upon mutual respect and always recognising the importance of the public interest. This seminar will help journalists better understand the challenges they face in reporting offences and measures taken to combat fraud and corruption. It will reinforce the role they play as public watchdogs." He added: "It will contribute to more professionalism from within journalism and among the investigative branch. Only criminals and wrong-doers lose out when journalists do their job well."
Investigative journalists from leading Romanian media outlets will participate in the OLAF-IFJ seminar in Brussels. With a view to the latest round of EU enlargement, the main topic of the five-day event will be to explain the work of law enforcement agencies investigating cases of fraud, corruption and other illegal activities damaging the financial interests of the EU.
OLAF and representatives of journalists' associations have been involved in an exchange of ideas on anti-fraud communication for several years. Two joint seminars of OLAF and the International Federation of Journalists for members of the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) have already been held (Brussels 2005All available translations., Sofia 2006All available translations.). In 2004 a round table entitled "Deterring fraud by informing the publicAll available translations." involved journalists, representatives of the IFJ and the International Press Association (IPA-API) of Brussels correspondents. The proceedings have been summarised in a booklet with the same title.
The OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) includes the OLAF spokesman, spokespersons responsible for public relations and information officers in the national investigation services, with which OLAF cooperates in the Member States. The Romanian anti-fraud service DLAF is an active member of this network.