In a common effort to address these issues, Transparency International and I launched in March 2015 the pilot initiative called "Integrity Pacts - Civil Control Mechanism for Safeguarding EU Funds against Fraud and Corruption." I'm glad to see the high interest from both public authorities and civil society organisations to participate in this pilot project. The evaluation of applications for piloting the Integrity Pacts has now been completed and potential candidates are shortlisted. I very much look forward to welcoming the first Integrity Pact soon.
With over EUR 351 billion available under the Cohesion Policy funding for 2014-2020, the European Commission wants to ensure that Member States make the best possible use of these funds. For many EU Member States the Cohesion funds represent the main source of public funding. Thus, I strongly believe that ensuring efficient and transparent public procurement procedures is crucial when handling EU taxpayers' money.
Therefore the need to address the issue in a proactive and preventive way is crucial. The main idea behind Integrity Pacts is to help contracting authorities and companies bidding for public contracts to abstain from corrupt practices and conduct the procurement process with integrity, transparency and efficiency. The initiative comes to support governments, businesses and civil society organisations to improve trust and transparency in public procurement. Transparency International has a wide experience in combatting corruption and made a lasting contribution to transparency and accountability.
The European Commission has also published recently the Guidance on public procurement. This document aims at supporting public officials to avoid the most frequent pitfalls and adopt the best practices in public procurement of projects co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds. This initiative complements the Commission’s efforts to build institutional capacity across the EU.