Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Do you have any comparative information on asset disclosure rules for politicians in European countries?

Note

This answer is also available in French.

CONTENT

1. General Recommendations on Asset Declaration
2. Country Examples on Asset Declaration Rules
3. Concluding Remarks
4. References

SUMMARY

Asset declaration regimes have been introduced in many countries as a way to enhance transparency and integrity as well as the trust of citizens in public administration. They aim at preventing conflicts of interest among public officials and members of the government and avoiding illicit enrichment or other illegal activities by monitoring wealth variations of individual politicians and civil servants. In the absence of agreed international standards on asset disclosure requirements, studies point to a set of core principles that should be considered by governments seeking to adopt such regimes: asset disclosure regimes should cover the leadership of the three government branches; they should be publicly available; and they should cover a wide range of issues (income, gifts, assets, liabilities, conflicts of interest). Experience also shows that “credible asset declaration regimes need to clearly define who should declare what to whom, at which frequency, establish a review mechanism with explicit criteria for verification, provide for public access to these declarations, and applicable sanctions for failure to declare” (Chêne 2011).

The disclosure of private interests by heads of state, ministers or members of cabinet, and upper and lower house legislators is becoming a common practice in many countries. Most regimes require a declaration of assets, income and liabilities, but the content, scope and coverage of assets declaration still vary from country to country. This answer analyses the regimes adopted in European countries, including Spain, France and Sweden. This review suggests that the asset declaration framework in most European countries, particularly with regards to heads of state, does not always cover all key requirements of an effective asset declaration regime. In comparison, the United States is often referred to as a country with one of the most comprehensive regulations.

Authors

Maíra Martini, Transparency International, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Date

20/12/2011

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