TASK FORCE STATUS: Since February 2000 - still active
The damage caused by corrupt practices in Southeast Europe is well known. Corruption has eroded the rule of law and the stability of democratic institutions, breaching fundamental rights and freedoms and undermining the trust and confidence of citizens in the fairness and impartiality of public administration. It has undermined the business climate, discouraged domestic and foreign investment, wasted economic resources and hampered economic growth, thus threatening the very objectives of peace, democracy and prosperity in Southeast Europe.
Why have countries of South Eastern Europe, along with the international community, mobilised to fight bribery and corruption in the region? The answer is simple: corruption respects no borders, knows no economic distinctions and tends to affect all government bodies. No country of South Eastern Europe can afford the social, political and economic costs that bribery and corruption entail. As such, the fight against bribery and corruption has moved to the top of the regional political agenda. Not so long ago, bribing public officials to obtain any deal was at least a tolerated practice in the wide parts of the region. Today, SEE countries, associated with the international community, will play by stricter rules. The legal and institutional frameworks are being reformed according to European and other international standards. This is not only needed in order to outlaw the practice of bribing public officials, but also to promote a whole arsenal of legal instruments and to improve ethical standards in the public sector, to establish the rule of law, to curtail money laundering and to clean up public procurement practices. The private sector and the civil society are playing a crucial role in turning these new rules into reality.
In response, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe made the fight against corruption a top priority upon its founding in Cologne (Germany) in June 1999.This was formally endorsed in Sarajevo a month later. On 16th February 2000, again in Sarajevo, Stability Pact countries, including the EU member states, the countries of the SEE region and the international donor community, adopted an Anti-Corruption Initiative – SPAI.
SPAI is composed as a threefold structure: the Chairman - having the overall coordination, the Steering Group (SG) which is composed of senior representatives from member countries and international organizations - as governing body, and the Secretariat of the initiative – as the executive body.
Following a multidisciplinary approach, SPAI provides incentives for policy reform and sets out a number of commitments for policy reforms that SEE countries need to implement in order to eradicate corruption. There are five pillars:
Adhesion to and implementation of universal and other European legal anti-corruption instruments as well as implementation of multilateral/regional agreements;
Promotion of good governance and reliable public administrations;
Strengthening of legislation and promotion of the rule of law;
Promotion of transparency and integrity in business operations;
Promotion of an active civil society and raising public awareness
Since the initiation of SPAI in February 2000, the environment for cooperation against corruption in South-eastern Europe has changed considerably:
Countries have made significant progress in the adoption of relevant international instruments.
All countries of South-Eastern Europe are now members of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) under which their compliance with European anti-corruption instruments is monitored. Some also participate in the OECD monitoring mechanism.
Comprehensive anti-corruption plans have been adopted and are under implementation.
In some countries, institutional mechanisms to manage the implementation of these plans as well as specialised institutions to investigate and prosecute corruption have been created or strengthened.
The capacity of civil society organisations to support anti-corruption measures have been strengthened, as reflected in the formation of anti-corruption coalitions or the creation of national chapters of Transparency International.
The readiness of donors and international organisations to support specific anti-corruption projects has increased and a – yet limited – number of projects have been implemented.
Anti-corruption measures are also reviewed within the EU’s Stabilisation and Association Process. The annual reports published by the European Commission refer among other relevant issues also to the anti-corruption actions undertaken by relevant countries and required improvements on national level.
At its September 2003 meeting in Sarajevo, the SPAI Steering Group approved to transfer the Secretariat of the SPAI to the region in order to promote local ownership of the Initiative and further enhance regional capacities to lead the fight against corruption in South East Europe. The SPAI RSLO as legal entity was established by the Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Office of the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe - signed on 15 September 2003.
The Secretariat serves as a concrete and visible demonstration of the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative commitment of the regional states to the continuing, concerted and coordinated fight against corruption in South Eastern Europe.
SPAI member countries reinforced their national and regional commitments aiming at the adoption of impact oriented measures, by signing the Declaration on 10 Joint Measures to Curb Corruption in South Eastern Europe, in Brussels 2005, in order to provide full support and assistance to the SPAI Secretariat.
Following the political support for SPAI expressed in the SPAI Ministerial Declaration (Brussels, May 2005), the SPAI member countries, by signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Fighting Corruption through the South Eastern European, (MoU) in Zagreb (April 2007) marked an important step in order to ensure the sustainability of the SPAI-RSLO in Sarajevo and its leadership on this Initiative.
In line with the transformation of the Stability Pact into Regional cooperation Council (RCC) and through a decision of the SEE countries, the Anticorruption Initiative of the Stability Pact (SPAI), has been renamed in October 2007 to the Regional Anticorruption Initiative (RAI).
Regional Anticorruption Initiative (RAI) will continue to promote the prevention and control of corruption as a means to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and social and economic progress, and thus to contribute to further European integration.
Detailed information can be found at http://www.spai-rslo.org/en
- Strategic document of the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative
- Brussels Ministerial Declaration on 10 joint measures to curb corruption in SEE
- Memorandum of Understanding concerning cooperation in fighting corruption through the SEE anti-corruption initiative (MoU)
- Work Plan 2008-2009
- Terms of reference – Chairman
- Terms of reference – Secretariat
- Annual report for 2006
For further information,
Regional Cooperation Council
Trg Bosne i Hercegovine 1 / V
Bosna i Hercegovina
Phone +387 33 561 700
Fax +387 33 561 701