ANAC, will have a key role in stopping white-collar criminals from appropriating the recovery funds President Busia interviewed by Politico.eu
Giuseppe Busia, president of Italy’s anti-corruption authority ANAC, will have a key role in stopping white-collar criminals from appropriating the recovery funds. “The fact that there are very large resources concentrated in a short period of time and to be spent quickly, respecting all the steps necessarily generates an interest on the part of organized crime to try to infiltrate public tenders,” he told to Paola Tamma. With Italy the fund’s largest beneficiary, with over €200 billion at stake, Busia advocated for a strong oversight role for its agency.
An example for the EU? The Italian government recently adopted a decree on the anti-corruption monitoring system, requiring all contracts drawn up under the fund to be digitized and made available in a single repository, controlled by ANAC, which will be able to cross-check the data using analytics tools. “It would be desirable for it to be copied in its entirety by other European countries also from the point of view of the controls that the European Commission can carry out on the expenditure of European funds,” Busia said. “The more the European institutions will demand and have the strength to demand the adoption of systems such as ours, the better.”
One of the key success factors of the EU’s €800 billion recovery fund isn’t how green the expenditure will be, or whether EU countries are serious about reforming their economies. It’s whether the money is safe from corruption. “Europe could get mortally wounded if the aftertaste in 2026, 2027 of this big expenditure plan is a trail of corruption cases and of graft,” said Luis Garicano, an MEP with Renew Europe who was one of the lead negotiators on the file. The Parliament pushed hard for anti-corruption guarantees, notably requiring that governments beef up their national monitoring and control systems to check for fraud, corruption and conflicts of interests (Article 22, for the nerds).
This is a precondition to get any funding flowing. So, with the first national plans being approved this week, how are countries putting it in practice? “The strengthening of ANAC is essential precisely because the acceleration of expenditure linked to the recovery fund implies the need to compensate with greater transparency and greater control,” Busia said.
The Italian government recently adopted a decree on the recovery plan’s anti-corruption monitoring system, detailing ANAC’s role. It required that all contracts drawn up under the fund are digitized and made available in a single repository, controlled by ANAC, which will be able to cross-check the data using analytic tools.
ANAC will also continue to carry out ad-hoc audits and inspections, and preliminary checks on how a tender is drawn up, and who is sitting on its jury. Since the creation of ANAC, Italy rose 17 points in Transparency International’s 2020 corruption perception ranking — while still ranking 52nd worldwide, at the bottom of the EU.
“The more the European institutions will demand and have the strength to demand the adoption of systems such as ours, the better,” said Busia. He has a point. 62 percent of EU citizens say government corruption is a “big” problem in their country; only one third says it’s a small problem, or none at all. 36 percent of Italians think corruption got worse over the last year — and as many as 62 percent of Cypriots, the highest score — more in the Global Corruption Barometer for the EU, released overnight by Transparency International.