EU awards Belgium 700,000 euros for integrity policy

The European Commission has granted Belgium 700,000 euros to support its integrity policy, spearheaded by federal minister for public service Petra De Sutter.

“We will use these resources to ensure that procurement rules are properly respected and to strengthen the recently created Centre of Expertise on Integrity,” she said in a statement. “Integrity is the foundation of the trust citizens place in politicians and public authority.”

De Sutter said more than six in 10 Belgians believe there is corruption in public institutions and more than a third of entrepreneurs think they have missed out on a public contract because of corruption. “Although it is a matter of perception, this indicates that integrity is not taken for granted.”

The federal authorities must become the “showcase of integrity”, she said. “This is why I have already put integrity at the top of the agenda for civil servants by appointing integrity coordinators, while a centre of expertise has been created and we have reviewed the ethical framework for civil servants.”

De Sutter intends to build on this momentum with the EU funding.

"Integrity is the foundation of the trust citizens place in politicians and public authority"

“We want to make the audits we do today more effective by using artificial intelligence (AI) in a structural way,” she said. “If, for example, AI allows us to see that one department is paying more than another for office equipment, for no apparent reason, we can seek to improve the situation.

“Similarly, if we find that certain types of contracts are awarded very often to a limited number of suppliers, we can broaden competition.”

The European Commission and Belgium will work with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to make the best use of the €700,000 grant.

The OECD will use the money to support the centre of expertise – the Integrity Bureau – and the new integrity coordinators. The centre will develop a toolkit containing instruments that can strengthen integrity, such as risk analysis and a whistle-blower policy.

Minister for public service Petra De Sutter in parliament © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK


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