Strengthening Transparency and Governance Through Collective Action in Bulgaria

On October 10, 2023, the Basel Institute on Governance in partnership with the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Bulgaria, and Transparency International and USAID organized “Strengthening Transparency and Governance Through Collective Action in Bulgaria” Conference. AmCham Bulgaria and Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber supported the initiative and the event.

The event was opened by Asen Vasilev, Minister of Finance, who stayed the whole event. “Corruption is a cancer. It suffocates society. We need sustained, long-term collective efforts to eradicate it.”

Moderator and panelist was Gretta Fenner, Managing Director, Basel Institute on Governance. The audience heard the official address from Mariya Gabriel, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, and H.E. Raymund Furrer, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bulgaria and H.E. Kenneth Merten, Ambassador of United States to Bulgaria.

It was an inspiring event full of appetite for Collective Action against corruption in Bulgaria from the highest levels of government and business to those on the front lines. The in-person event (with live streaming) is aimed primarily at government agencies contributing to the anti-corruption agenda, as well as private-sector participants including business and industry associations. Civil society organizations and the media will also be invited. The event is a chance to shape private-sector engagement in anti-corruption and good governance efforts in Bulgaria.

Joint actions by the government and business in their fight against corruption would give better and more effective results, and if in vulnerable sectors such as public procurement the rogue patterns of violations are identified and literarily erased, said Ivan Mihaylov, AmCham Bulgaria CEO during the panel “Private Sector for Collective Actions”

How can Collective Action boost transparency and fair business in Bulgaria?

Collective Action brings together companies with other parties, such as government and/or civil society, to increase business integrity, transparency and fairness. Anti-corruption Collective Action initiatives can take many forms, such as anti-corruption statements, integrity pacts, initiatives to develop common standards and principles, and certifying business coalitions.

At its heart, it is about bringing businesses and other stakeholders together to tackle shared problems of corruption.

Collective Action initiatives and tools can help to:

  • raise standards of integrity in an industry or market;
  • develop self-regulatory standards for specific sectors;
  • solve systemic issues related to corporate bribery and corruption;
  • enhance fair competition and level the playing field between competitors.

The potential of Collective Action to strengthen business integrity and enhance conditions for fair competition is increasingly recognised by leading international organisations and standards such as the 2021 OECD Anti-Bribery Recommendation and the 2022 B20 Indonesia Policy Paper on Integrity and Compliance as well as in several National Anti-Corruption Strategies and Action Plans.

By bringing together stakeholders from the public sector and private sectors, this event aims to foster the peer learning and collaboration that is at the heart of Collective Action.

This will support the current commitments and anti-corruption agenda of the Government of Bulgaria, including Bulgaria’s 2021-2027 Anti-Corruption Strategy, the Summit for Democracy Action Agenda and the principles of the Open Government Partnership.