PACE to revise its Code of Conduct in response to corruption allegations

The Rules Committee will be putting a revision of the Code of Conduct for Members to a vote of the Assembly at its forthcoming plenary sitting. The committee believes that the allegations of corruption and fostering of interests recently made against some members or former members have “called into question, as never before, the credibility of the Assembly’s actions and positions” and could entail the risk of “lasting damage” to its reputation.

The proposals adopted by the committee, on the basis of the report by Ian Liddell-Grainger (United Kingdom, EC), call for a review of the current oversight of the principles of behaviour and rules of conduct incumbent on members of the Assembly which at present depends solely on the President of the Assembly and which GRECO describes as “excessively discretionary”.

The committee believes that the establishment of a new mechanism will allow impartial examination of alleged breaches of ethical rules and principles, including those revealed by outside sources, and fair conduct of, and a faster start to, investigations of these allegations. There shall also be a review of the list of sanctions applicable in the event of proven breaches of the Assembly’s ethical standards.

The committee also suggests adopting clear rules on access to, and movement within, Council of Europe premises for third parties during Assembly sessions and meetings, establishing a transparency register and taking effective steps to prevent former members involved in paid consultancy and lobbying from benefiting from specific advantages.

The draft text will be put to a vote of the Assembly on Tuesday 10 October during its plenary sitting (Strasbourg, 9-13 October 2017).

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In response to the allegations of corruption, the Bureau of the Assembly approved last January a three-step approach to address the situation: revision of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Assembly, inviting GRECO (the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption) to advise the Rules Committee and the setting up of an external investigation body, which began its work last June.