Mr President of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr Secretary-General

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen

Corruption endangers the stability and security of our societies, undermines public trust and institutions, facilitates organised crime, and threatens sustainable development. Corruption thrives in times of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities for corruption to grow. Strong governance and international cooperation to fight corruption are now more important than ever.

On behalf of the European Union, I thank you for organising this timely Special Session on measures to prevent and combat corruption. The European Union supports the political declaration to renew our global commitments and to strengthen international cooperation in the fight against corruption.

Combatting corruption is high on the EU agenda. Fighting corruption is central to European economic governance. Our legislation protects the European Union's financial interests against fraud and corruption. The independent European Public Prosecutor's Office tasked to fight crimes against the EU budget is starting to work. The EU funds that support recovery from the pandemic have built-in mechanisms to prevent any kind of fraud, corruption and conflict of interests.

To fight corruption, we need to uphold the rule of law. This requires robust institutions, independent and impartial legal systems, a pluralistic media, strong investigative journalism, an engaged society. The European Union has established a new rule of law mechanism to foster a rule of law culture across the EU, with the EU Rule of Law report published last year for the first time and with the second report due for adoption in July.

To fight corruption, we need effective crime prevention and criminal justice response. This means boosting the capacity for successful investigations, prosecutions and convictions against corruption and corruption-related offences. This requires training and sufficient resources for specialized anti-corruption authorities and criminal justice institutions.

Asset recovery is an important element of crime prevention and criminal justice in cases involving corruption. Confiscating criminal assets is also a central element of the recently adopted EU strategy to tackle organised crime. Recovering assets and confiscating proceeds of crime should be accompanied by appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances, in order to benefit those harmed by corruption, within the framework of UN Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. 

The European Union particularly supports a strong role of civil society, non-governmental organisations, academia and media. They have an important role in preventing and fighting corruption. The EU supports a safe and enabling environment for whistle-blowers in exposing, reporting and fighting corruption, and condemns all attacks on those who work to expose corruption.

We can only fight corruption together, by strengthening our international cooperation.

The EU calls on all UN Member States to make the best possible use of all global and regional instruments at your disposal – in particular the relevant conventions of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The EU, as party to the UN Convention against Corruption, will fully participate in the review mechanism.

I look forward to the discussions at the Special Session. And congratulate you on behalf of the EU on the adoption of the political declaration. Thank you.