A Comparative Law Approach
- Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series
Edited by Jean-Bernard Auby, Emmanuel Breen and Thomas Perroud
Chapter 18: Footprints in the sand: Regulating conflict of interest at EU level
A number of comparative studies have shown how states handle particular conflicts of interest, and to what extent they seek to prevent them or to criminalise them. International and EU bodies have not been immune to conflicts of interest, although their internal regulatory systems seem to have attracted less in-depth or comparative analysis. In this chapter, the author argues that a comprehensive EU regulatory framework, dedicated to conflicts of interest at EU level, is needed. Conflicts of interest involving senior public servants are a political embarrassment and damage the confidence of the public in democratic institutions, because of the perceived connection between conflicts of interest and corruption. The OECD has defined a conflict of interest as 'a conflict between the public duty and private interests of a public official, in which the public official has private-capacity interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities'. A conflict of interest can be actual, apparent or potential. In an actual conflict of interest, a public official is in a position to be influenced by his private interests in the performance of his official duties. An apparent (or perceived) conflict of interest refers to a situation where there is a personal interest that might reasonably be considered by others to influence the public official's duties, even though there is no such influence.
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