What could be the message President Joe Biden wants to bring to the world?
A highly coordinated, strongly funded, international anti-corruption strategy is needed
President Joe Biden was recently welcomed in the United Kingdom and Belgium before going to meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
There is the impression the U.S. government counts on its West European partners and allies to support Biden’s view that anti-corruption is a major issue of national security and demands robust coordinated approaches. We all should know the safety on all grounds is a matter we all have to tackle together. The time of just one country safeguarding itself, not taking account of the others, is long gone.
Fighting corruption is not just good governance and not just something to be left to a few governments. Biden finds it
“patriotism, and it’s essential to the preservation of our democracy and our future.”
I think it is much more than just patriotism. For sure, fighting corruption and terrorism is essential to the preservation of our democracy and our future. Today corruption is not only a risk to our national security. It undermines the whole system and endangers the peace between the inhabitants of several nations.
All the “civilised” countries should work together and strengthen their investigations and prosecutions of money laundering, boosting foreign aid to assist countries to counter graft and increasing efforts to coordinate actions with like-minded governments.
It is very good to hear that this new American President seems to be willing to is willing to correct the hideous mistakes of his predecessor. Good also that Joe Biden’s anti-corruption strategy gets increasing support in the U.S. Congress.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, represented the EU at this year’s G7 summit hosted in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
During the three-day meeting the G7 leaders discussed a wide range of pressing topics, including COVID-19, pandemic preparedness and economic recovery; geopolitical challenges and foreign affairs; trade and development; promoting open societies and democratic values; and fighting climate change and protecting the environment.
The summit took place under the UK presidency of the G7, the overarching theme of which is ‘Building Back Better’ from the pandemic. The UK invited leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to attend part of the meeting as guest countries.
The leaders of the Group of Seven, met in Cornwall on 11-13 June 2021 determined to beat COVID-19 and build back better. They remembered everyone who has been lost to the pandemic and paid tribute to those still striving to overcome it. Inspired by their example of collaboration and determination, the participants gathered united by the principle that brought them together originally, that shared beliefs and shared responsibilities are the bedrock of leadership and prosperity. We have come in times that we, as human beings, have to understand our connection but also our responsibility here on earth. Guided by this, their enduring ideals as free open societies and democracies, and by their commitment to multilateralism, the attendees have agreed a shared G7 agenda for global action to:
End the pandemic and prepare for the future by driving an intensified international effort, starting immediately, to vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as fast as possible.
Reinvigorate our economies by advancing recovery plans that build on the $12 trillion of support we have put in place during the pandemic.
Secure our future prosperity by championing freer, fairer trade within a reformed trading system, a more resilient global economy, and a fairer global tax system that reverses the race to the bottom.
Protect our planet by supporting a green revolution that creates jobs, cuts emissions and seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.
Strengthen our partnerships with others around the world. We will develop a new partnership to build back better for the world, through a step change in our approach to investment for infrastructure, including through an initiative for clean and green growth.
Embrace our values as an enduring foundation for success in an ever changing world. We will harness the power of democracy, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights to answer the biggest questions and overcome the greatest challenges.
The leaders wanted to ensure us that all those promises will be done in a way that values the individual and promotes equality, especially gender equality, including by supporting a target to get 40 million more girls into education and with at least $2¾ billion for the Global Partnership for Education.
Total G7 commitments since the start of the pandemic provide for a total of over two billion vaccine doses, and they commit themselves to increase and coordinate on global manufacturing capacity on all continents; improving early warning systems; and support science in a mission to shorten the cycle for the development of safe and effective vaccines, treatments and tests from 300 to 100 days.
The whole crisis has brought many businesses to a stop and got many workers not able to work for months. Plans have to be made to create jobs, invest in infrastructure, drive innovation, support people, and level up so that no place or person, irrespective of age, ethnicity or gender is left behind. This has not been the case with past global crises, and the G7 are determined that this time it will be different.
The G7, NATO and the EU hopefully worked something out to start the big battle against internet terrorism, corruption but also human inequality which is the basis for dissatisfaction and aggressive behaviour against the government apparatus.
The G7 leaders promised they will collaborate to ensure future frontiers of the global economy and society, from cyberspace to outer space, increase the prosperity and wellbeing of all people while upholding our values as open societies. They are convinced of the potential of technological transformation for the common good in accordance with our shared values.
In the corridors of the G7 and NATO summits, prior to the meeting with Putin, Biden and his associates forcefully stressed that the US sees anti-corruption now as a core issue of national security in the vital contest across the globe between authoritarianism and democracy.
The success of the Biden strategy crucially depends upon full cooperation, in particular, by the governments of the U.K. Germany, France, Italy, as well as the European Commission.
Astonishingly, though, neither the UK nor any EU member country has provided law enforcement authorities with the budget resources adequate to meaningfully take on the money-launderers in their midst.
This makes it hard to expose the dirty cash schemes perpetrated in their countries by the representatives of kleptocrats and their cronies, as well as by organised crime.
It is generally known that countries in the European Union are known for being wealthy, stable and democratic. However, this clean image is undermined by issues ranging from regional inequality and erosion of the rule of law to corruption problems.
Transparency International’s new Global Corruption Barometer – EU 2021 surveyed over 40,000 people in all 27 EU countries. The results reveal that almost a third of people think corruption is getting worse in their country. A further 44 per cent think it’s not getting any better.
Not only in France and Belgium we can see that fewer people are interested in politics and have lost their trust in their politicians. Less than a third of people (30 per cent) questioned think their government takes their views into account when making decisions.
Around half think that bribes or connections are commonly used by businesses to secure profitable government contracts and that big companies often avoid paying their taxes. In the nearly past crisis several of companies could see their income gone up with millions, whilst the workers had to work extremely hard and even do an unheard of amount of overtime without any extra allowance. In Belgium, the government now even managed to allow those ‘big bosses’ with the millions, to earn some extra millions untaxed, while the workers can only count on a 0.04% wage increase for the next 2 years whilst they have to pay already a lot of taxes and have to face increased prices for their daily necessities. It is not surprising, then, that more than half of people in the EU think their government is run by private interests and have no eye for the ordinary or the common people.
In Germany, Belgium and France it looks more that the country is run by the big companies and top richest bosses of multi-nationals. Commercial influence and interests are the major constraint on European governments acting nearly as forcefully as they should in dealing with foreign corrupt regimes.
Germany and France, for example, are keen to sell goods and services to Russia (and to other kleptocracies) and hate to see trade curbed because of the Kremlin’s far-reaching corruption. They act in that manner even though they must be aware that this way of accommodating Russia undermines Western democracies and strengthen Russia’s geopolitical influence.
For the citizens of West Europe often it looks like the countries are not looking for the welfare of their citizens, but are more concerned by the gains of the companies. It looks also that authorities turn a blind eye to the armies of Russians, often kleptocrats, who have bought large swathes of property to create “Londongrad, and to the Chinese who as the former European colonialists sucked Africa out, now are emptying that country, while Europe watches quietly. Russian and Chines “businessmen” are “aided” by European financial institutions, lawyers, real estate brokers and consultants eager to earn high fees for their transactional services. And these high end professionals, in turn, wield the kind of political influence to ensure that their income streams are unchallenged.
The final G7 Summit communiqué made only passing reference to corruption. In fact, it was buried so deeply in the document that it looked as if it had just been inserted by a U.S. official.
However, Acting Assistant Secretary of State James Walsh responded to a question fromon this issue:
“We had corruption high on the G7 Summit agenda, even if the media did not report this.”
Western Europe, Canada and the United States of America should come to see that they all are in it together needing a highly coordinated, strongly funded, international anti-corruption strategy.
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