In the context of ever increasing international cooperation, France is updating its anti-corruption strategy. In this regard, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs presented a report1 on France's anti-corruption strategy for the next decade.
This report comes at the same time that the Biden Administration issued a memorandum on establishing the fight against corruption as a core United States national security interest (for more details, see our article published in French on June 10, 20212) and is part of France's commitment to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
France has set the overall objective of reducing corruption based on three (3) areas of intervention.
1. Consolidation of the French Anti-Corruption System
First, France intends to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-corruption cooperation by developing a framework in order to, amongst others, consider more systematically the local political willpower and economy in anti-corruption cooperation projects.
France intends to reinforce:
(i) the exchange of information and best practices;
(ii) consultation with civil society prior to evaluating country risk; and
(iii) training courses for French agents abroad.
2. Promotion of Anti-Corruption and Strengthening of Governance in International Cooperation
Second, France's objective is to promote transparency and specific anticorruption priorities.
The following actions are envisaged in particular, first, for the public sector:
(i) strengthening internal and external control and audit systems; and
(ii) reinforcing accountability in the management of public resources and integrity for public officials.
The following additional actions are envisaged, involving the private sector, where applicable:
(i) protecting whistleblowers, by supporting foreign initiatives to protect their status, increasing public awareness or establishing reporting systems;
(ii) assisting public-private partnerships (PPPs), through the promotion of G20 objectives, technical assistance programs, the SOURCE3 platform, and reinforcement of relevant regulatory authorities; and
(iii) strengthening public procurement through its involvement in the MAPS4 initiative, the development of electronic purchasing systems, the reinforcement of control bodies and by raising awareness of French companies bidding for public contracts abroad.
France intends to support police and judicial cooperation in order to promote the development of skills of actors dedicated to the fight against corruption.
3. Support of the Work of International Organizations, Non-State Actors and Local Institutions
Third, France intends to strengthen its collaboration with international organizations, multilateral or regional development banks and public development agencies to facilitate joint investigations and information exchange on corruption risks.
In addition, France wishes to strengthen collaboration with non-state actors. This includes developing partnerships between public agents and civil society to influence local authorities. France plans to involve representatives of SMEs, ETIs, the Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF), chambers of commerce and industry (CCIs) located abroad, and French foreign trade advisors (CCEFs).
France's objective is to rely on local institutions. In particular, support will be given to projects that strengthen the independence, legitimacy and technical skills of local higher audit institutions, especially with regard to investigations.
France, along with the other G7 countries, commits to cooperate in order to "prevent and combat corruption and illicit financial flows and to promote integrity, transparency and accountability."5 These commitments by states suggest that international cooperation in the fight against corruption is likely to be further radically strengthened and that issues related to ethics and integrity remain at the forefront of political priorities. Furthermore, this trend is consistent with the Integrity and Compliance recommendations of the B20 companies in 2020, to which the authors of this article have had the honor of contributing as Knowledge Partners.
More particularly, French and foreign companies might be invited to participate in this public-private exercise and be further evaluated in the effectiveness of their anti-corruption compliance measures. Furthermore, a strengthened international cooperation between regulators and authorities might prove to be even more challenging in the management of potential regulatory, legal and reputational risks. These increased local and foreign cooperative oversight actions put additional pressure not only on companies, but potentially on the French government to update the French Loi Sapin and the French Anticorruption Agency’s (AFA) powers.
1 Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), Ministry of Economy, Finance and Recovery (MEFR), Ministry of Justice (MINJUST), Ministry of Interior (MININT), French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA), Court of Auditors, High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP), French Development Agency (AFD and Expertise France), Canal France International (CFI), General Secretariat for European Affairs (SGAE), Rapport de stratégie, Stratégie anticorruption de la France dans son action de coopération 2021-2030, June 2, 2021, available at the following link: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/strategie_anticorruption_de_la_fce_ds_son_aciton_de_coop_fr_cle8ee8fa.pdf
2 Nicolette Kost de Sèvres, Joydeep Sengupta, “Lutte contre la corruption : l’administration américaine annonce le renforcement de sa stratégie invoquant la sécurité nationale des États-Unis”, June 10, 2020, available at the following link: https://www.mayerbrown.com/fr/perspectives-events/publications/2021/06/lutte-contre-la-corruption-ladministration-americaine-annonce-le-renforcement-de-sa-strategie-invoquant-la-securite-nationale-des-etats-unis
3 Multilateral platform for sustainable infrastructure project management, implemented through the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation (SIF), led by Multilateral Development Banks (https://public.sif-source.org/source/)
4 Methodology for Assessing Procurement Systems
5 G7 Summit, UK Carbis Bay, June 13, 2021, Open Societies Statement, available at the following link: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/fr/press/press-releases/2021/06/13/2021-g7-leaders-communique/