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18th EPAC/EACN ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCE AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

More than 100 delegates representing 30 member countries attended the 18th EPAC/EACN Annual Professional Conference and General Assembly, which was hosted by the Austrian Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAK) and took place from 22 to 24 October 2018 in Rust, Austria.

Under the theme “Multiple challenges require sustainable and interactive solutions”, the conference focused on the identification of innovative solutions contributing to the successful prevention of and fight against corruption. The event also provided a valuable networking opportunity and set the stage for further cooperation between the member organizations of EPAC (European Partners against Corruption) and EACN (European contact-point network against corruption).

The conference was opened by Mr. Andreas Wieselthaler, President of EPAC/EACN and Director of BAK. This was followed by a speech of Ms. Karoline Edtstadler, State Secretary at the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, who emphasized that the presence of so many organizations at this year’s conference was “…a clear sign of the importance we all attach to enhancing the fight against corruption”.

The conference continued with interactive panel discussions and presentations on topics such as compliance and integrity in the context of preventing and combating corruption and developments at international level. Among the speakers were high-ranking representatives of Europol, Interpol, OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office), GRECO (Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe), TI (Transparency International), OMV, International IDEA, and the BAK.

On the second day, representatives of member organizations gave various interesting presentations on national and regional projects. Following these presentations, participants were asked to vote for the most innovative project complying with the networks’ mission. Furthermore, in parallel workshop sessions on the subjects “Human rights in the context of anti-corruption investigations”, “EU Integrity project”, “Corruption in health care systems” and “Complaints systems”, participants had the opportunity to exchange experiences with their peers from anti-corruption authorities (ACAs) and police oversight bodies (POBs). Between the workshops, a World Café session took place with the objective to meet the EPAC/EACN Board Members as well as delegates of other member organizations and to discuss views regarding the future role of EPAC/EACN.

On the last day of the conference, the results of the EPAC/EACN Working Groups (WGs) were dealt with. The WG “Analysis of big data, related legal aspects, and the use of databases”, chaired by the Lithuanian STT and co-chaired by the Romanian DNA, presented the interim outcome to the audience. The second WG (working title: „How can POB organizations monitor the authorities of police forces in respect of the balance between collective security and individual rights during mass meetings/events?”) is headed by the Belgian Standing Police Monitoring Committee. Its first meeting was held in April 2018. Both working groups will continue their work in 2019. At the conference in Rust, the new WG “EU Integrity” was set up. It had been initiated by the BAK and will be co-chaired by Germany, France, Romania and Austria.

During the General Assembly, the membership applications of five new authorities were accepted: the Bulgarian Commission for Anti-Corruption and Illegal Assets (CACIAF), the Prevention and Fight Against Corruption Office of the Balearic Islands as well as the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency, both from Spain, the Policing Authority of Ireland, and the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and the Coordination of the Fight against Corruption (Bosnia and Herzegovina). This proves that EPAC/EACN continues to be an attractive European platform to share practical anti-corruption knowledge and experiences.

The General Assembly also re-elected the President of EPAC/EACN, Mr. Andreas Wieselthaler, as well as the Deputy Vice Presidents, Ms. Monique Stirn (Inspector General of Luxembourg Police) for the POB strand and Ms. Ruta Kaziliunaite (Deputy Head of the Administration Department of the Lithuanian STT) for the ACA strand. Finally, the Pannonia Declaration 2018 was adopted; its text is available at http://www.epac-eacn.org/downloads/declarations.

The conference concluded with a speech given by Mr. Hermann Feiner, Director General at the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, who conveyed his gratitude to all participants, panellists, speakers and organizers for their contribution and commitment. Mr. Andreas Wieselthaler moderated the award ceremony for the project that the day before had been voted the most innovative. The 2018 EPAC/EACN award went to the Belgian Standing Police Monitoring Committee for the project “Policing the Police – A European Benchmark. Findings of the Belgian Standing Police Monitoring Committee in Search of Good Practices”.

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