EU seeks more corporate transparency
Euobserver: “EU companies will be required to publish information ranging from anti-corruption and bribery measures to their boardroom policies and employment practices, under new legislation unveiled by the European Commission on Tuesday (16 April).
The Commission draft, which would cover an estimated 18,000 European companies with more than 500 employees, would also force firms to assess the environmental and social results of their activities,
In a statement launching the legislation, internal market commissioner Michel Barnier said that more corporate accountability would lead to more profits.
“Companies that already publish information on their financial and non-financial performances take a longer term perspective in their decision-making. They have lower financing costs, attract and retain talented employees, and ultimately are more successful,” he noted.
Speaking later with reporters in Strasbourg, Barnier said the new requirements were aimed at increasing “cohesion for businesses and between businesses.”
He added that greater company transparency was “needed for all sectors, not just banks.”
The proposal is the latest attempt to increase transparency standards for EU companies.
Earlier this month, MEPs and ministers reached agreement on country-by-country reporting by companies in the extractive and logging sector. Meanwhile, from 2014 banks will also be required to disclose information ranging from profits and turnover to employee numbers and tax payments…”
EUROPEAN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
Irregular migrant numbers to EU drop by half
Euobserver: “The number of people trying to get into the EU dropped by around a half in 2012, the EU’s border agency said Thursday (18 April).
The Warsaw-based Frontex says some 73,000 people were detected in 2012, down from around 114,000 the year before.
“This was the first time since systematic data collection began in 2008 that annual detections have plunged under 100,000,” said its annual report.
The greatest decrease was noted along the Greek-Turkish land border. The border is a favoured entry point into greater Europe with thousands of migrants wading across the Evros River every week during the first eight months of 2012.
Pashalis Syritoudis, director of police in Orestiadas near the Turkish border, told EUobserver in November around 6,500 migrants passed the border in July 2012.
“In August, we had only 1,800. In September, only 71 illegal immigrants, in October only 26 and now there are none,” he said.
The drop followed the erection of a 10.5 kilometer barbed-wire fence, which closed off a loop where the river bends into Turkey.
An additional 1,881 Greek border guards coordinated by Frontex were also deployed with specialised equipment in the Evros border region.
The barrier and the extra guards lead to other migrants taking the more treacherous sea route through the Aegean Sea.
Detections in the Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece, increased by 912 percent with the trend starting in September. Reports of bodies washing up on the beaches of the Greek islands began to emerge…”
– CORRUPTION AND FRAUD
UK should step-up fight against fraud in EU
New Europe: “The UK government is not doing enough to prevent fraud against the EU, a new report has said.
The House of Lord’s report, The Fight Against Fraud on the EU’s Finances, published on 17 April, compiled by the justice, institutions and consumer protection EU sub-committee, recommends that the government should set-up a special department charged with co-ordinating the fight against fraud in the EU.
According to the report, latest figures from the treasury indicate losses to the exchequer amount to about £1 billion through VAT fraud, as well as €77 million thorough fraud in agricultural programmes, and €2014 million in fraud related to cohesion policy.
The report also found that there is a general lack interest from the government in taking EU fraud seriously, a lack of readiness by member states to report instances of fraud to the European Commission, a lack of shared information between authorities, and a breakdown of the relationship between OLAF, Europol and Eurojust.
The committee chairman, Lord Bowness, said that the UK is “failing” to monitor fraud “on its own doorstep.”
“It is extremely worrying that so much money is disappearing from the EU’s budget without anyone really having a handle on where and why it is happening and who is responsible,” he said. “In these difficult economic times, protecting the public purse must be of paramount importance to us all.”…”