Presentation on theme: "Restoring public confidence Report to the President of the French Republic on the Exemplarity of Public Officials By Jean-Louis Nadal, President of the."— Presentation transcript:
Restoring public confidence Report to the President of the French Republic on the Exemplarity of Public Officials By Jean-Louis Nadal, President of the French High Authority for Transparency in Public Life Honorary Chief Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation Full report in French at
In October, the President of the French Republic, Mr François Hollande, asked Mr Jean-Louis Nadal, former Chief Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation and current President of the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP), to prepare an inventory of French laws on public exemplarity and issue recommendations on the subject. This included an initial evaluation of the implementation of the laws of 11 October 2013 on transparency in public life, as well as the provisions - both preventive and punitive - that could be improved to restore public confidence. Such confidence requires that all those who represent the Republic and act on its behalf be irreproachable in the performance of their duties at a time when citizens want extra democratic transparency and republican exemplarity.
The concept of exemplarity of public officials involves two new ideas: 1.The scope of relevant persons. For public opinion, this includes all individuals who perform their duties in the public arena : Government members and their advisors, parliamentarians, Members of the European Parliament, local elected officials, judges, and public officials. 2.The relevant concept. The expression is recent : until now, the laws have generally used the more traditional concepts of integrity, impartiality and ethics. It includes all the ethics rules and preventive provisions that guarantee the highest degree of professional standards.
to restore public confidence 3 months of work (October January 2015) 80 interviews with experts (think thanks, academics, professionals and journalists) 1 working visit to London to learn more about the British system of integrity and ethics 1 comparative law review of six countries (Germany, Brazil, United States, Italy, Netherlands and Romania). Four topics/20 proposals
Guide the action of public officials Objective : prevent any breaches. Topic
This preventive objective should ensure that those who aspire to the highest public offices are current on their most basic obligations. This means : For the Government. Check the tax situation of individuals who are put forward to serve in the government before they are appointed (Proposal 1): there is currently a procedure, placed under the control of the HATVP, which consists of checking that members of the Government pay their taxes properly, but it is not activated until after their appointment. The proposal is for a cursory inspection to be allowed before the appointment. For Parliament. Provide for the issue of a tax clearance certificate for candidates in a national election (Proposal 2): this certificate should, at a minimum, check that the candidate has e.g. sent an income tax return to the tax authorities for the past three years. Individuals who are not current cannot run for office. For the administration. Set up an ethics review prior to the appointment of the highest government officials (Proposals 3 and 4); What exists elsewhere: Tax clearance certificate, in Ireland ; Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations, in the United States ; Civil Service Commission, in the United Kingdom.
This prevention objective also involves strengthening ethics rules, specifically : Extending the ethics principles already applicable to members of the Government and Parliament to civil servants and judges (Proposal 5) ; Creating a network of ethics correspondents in local and regional authorities and administrations (Proposal 6): these ethicists would be tasked with providing ethics advice suited to the specific nature of the services and missions of the relevant persons and responding to ethics alerts. Making the use of codes of ethics more widespread (Proposal 7) ; Developing ethics training programmes (Proposal 8) in public service schools and throughout careers. What exists elsewhere: Federal Ethics Network in the United States.
Involve and inform citizens Objective : make public action more transparent. Topic
This transparency objective should result in : Making open data more widespread and available (Proposal 9) : priority should be given to the dissemination of information on public procurement and public service delegation procedures, on the budget of local authorities, and on the financial records of political parties and campaigns of candidates. Giving greater visibility to lobbyists' activity (Proposal 10) and their influence on legislative or regulatory texts (Proposal 11) : the proposal is to create a digital directory on which lobbies must register in order to interact with public authorities, and to make public the list of individuals heard, consultations held, and contributions received during the process of drafting such texts. What exists elsewhere : Publication of procurement contracts in the United Kingdom ; Transparency Register of the European Parliament ; Guidance for lobbies in Canada.
Improve accountability Objective: ensure that the rules of accountability are suitable, proportionate and effective. Topic
Control the use of resources provided to public officers means : Entrusting the highest financial jurisdiction, the Court of Auditors, with the certification of accounts for political groups receiving public funding (Proposal 12) ; Improving the presidential election's financial transparency by increasing control of the expenses incurred by candidates (Proposal 13) ; Adjusting the material and financial resources of parliamentarians, factoring in the need for greater transparency (Proposal 14) ; Clarifying the rules for inspecting asset declarations by public officials (Proposal 15). What exists elsewhere: Campaign finance transparency in the United States.
Improve sanctioning for breaches of exemplarity Objective: fairly but firmly sanction individual conduct that is contrary to integrity. Topic
Because some individual conduct has a negative effect on all public officials, the following actions must be taken : Facilitate the reporting of criminal offences against public integrity that is required of all public officials (Proposal 16): article 40 of the French Criminal Code requires that every public official who has gained knowledge of the existence of a felony or of a misdemeanour is obliged to notify the legal authorities, but today, the government applies that rule variously according to the department. The proposal is for a circular from the Prime Minister to standardise its application. Coordinate the action of government structures that are in charge of detecting and punishing violations of public integrity (Proposal 17) ; Remove elected officials from public office if they are convicted of breaches of integrity (Proposal 18) : the proposal is for convictions of elected officials for breaches of integrity to automatically disqualify them (up to 10 years) - which is rarely the case at present. Give assemblies the option to remove some of their members in the event of a material breach of ethics (Proposal 19) In addition, the proposal is to reform the specialised financial court tasked with controlling the handling of public funds by allowing it to try ministers and local officials (Proposal 20). What exists elsewhere : Council of Europe's Code of Conduct for Public Officials ; Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom ; Article 30 of the Constitution of Denmark.