The CEO of International CEOE, Marta Blanco, participated in the Regional Seminar on integrity and sustainable investments, held today and tomorrow in Barcelona, ​​and during which she moderated the introductory session of the day, focused on integrity, anti-corruption and investment. This event has been organized by the OECD and the European Union and has been held at the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in Barcelona. The seminar, opened by the Secretary General of the UfM, provides a platform for dialogue of stakeholders in the importance of fighting corruption and promoting integrity, in order to attract and retain investment in the Mediterranean region. Policy makers from investment and anti-corruption agencies, the private sector and representatives of the Mediterranean and EU civil society discussed how greater integrity can contribute to achieving sustainable direct foreign investment.

The EU-OECD Program to promote investment in the Mediterranean supports efforts to boost the quality and quantity of investment within the Mediterranean region. It is a joint effort with governments and institutions, which involves regional and national actions to create stronger and more coherent investment policies and strategies, such as modernizing investment policies; promote inclusive investment strategies; increase investment promotion capacities in the region; encourage the creation of networks between investment promotion agencies; improve public-private dialogue for more inclusive policy formulation; and involve the business sector in a responsible manner.

Objectives of the seminar

Integrity in business is essential for the development of a country and the return on investments. Evidence indicates that bribery and corruption pose a significant economic burden for companies and prevent countries from reaching their economic growth and employment potential. This is also the case in the Mediterranean economies, where the levels of perception of corruption remain very high, which has an impact on investor confidence and the business environment.

In this context, governments, companies and civil society must share responsibility and act together to promote greater integrity that improves the level and quality of the investment environment. Several countries in the Region have recently adopted comprehensive national laws and strategies to fight corruption. However, a culture of integrity cannot be achieved only through public regulation, as the complementary and mutually supportive measures of the private sector also play an essential role.

Indeed, corruption is a multifaceted and constantly evolving phenomenon that requires innovative responses from society as a whole. Therefore, the objective of the seminar is to offer a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue, on the importance of taking measures to fight corruption in investment transactions. The seminar presents, in particular, international instruments to fight corruption, which help policy makers promote integrity, foster a clean business environment and include cooperation.

Integrity, anti-corruptionn and investmentorn

The CEO of International CEOE, Marta Blanco, moderated the introductory session of the seminar, focused on integrity, anti-corruption and investment, in which the dean of the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences of Tunisia, of the University of Cartago, took part Neila Chaabane and Nicolas Tollet, partner of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. During the panel, the impact of corruption on foreign direct investment, the economic issues at stake and the perspective of the private sector on anti-corruption measures and investment integrity were discussed. Likewise, it was analyzed why it is important to talk about the fight against corruption and investment and what are the priorities of the private sector in this regard.

Blanco stressed during the session that the fight against corruption is a moral premise and the logical result of companies' commitment to society. In this regard, he stressed that business reputation constitutes the core of its value and can seriously hamper the image of companies, especially with regard to investors and shareholders, who may lose their interest in the company; to suppliers, who can cut their relationship with the customer; to consumers, who can stop acquiring the product or service; to talent, which can be deterred from working in the company; and to the rest of the interested parties, who can expand the bad image of the company in society. Therefore, he said that, given all this, corruption can seriously jeopardize the profitability and future of the company.

However, Blanco also explained that reputation is perceived by many companies as a competitive aspect. Therefore, since CEOE an important effort is made to raise awareness among companies about the importance of preserving their reputation. In fact, he mentioned that the Business Confederation continuously works on these matters at the national level, through seminars and conferences showing companies the importance of preserving their reputation and protecting them against the unfair attitudes of their employees, where compliance programs perform a fundamental role. In this regard, he also added his role at the international level, monitoring the measures taken on this issue from Business at OECD or paying special attention to all initiatives carried out in relation to the application of the Framework of Guiding Principles of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” and the OECD guidelines for multinational companies.

Likewise, the Director of Compliance of Iberdrola, Fernando Fraile, participated in the first panel of the Seminar, based on international instruments and standards on integrity and the fight against corruption that promote a clean business environment. This session was intended to publicize the international instruments on the fight against corruption and integrity that have been adopted at regional and global levels to promote a clean business environment. In particular, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which has been ratified by most of the Mediterranean countries, imposes the establishment of a global strategy to prevent and combat corruption, which includes cooperation mechanisms between national authorities and The private sector

Key messages

In this regard, various key messages on this topic were emphasized. On the one hand, the importance of compliance was discussed as a strategic consideration for companies. Therefore, establishing and implementing compliance programs is part of responsible business conduct, aimed at preventing adverse impacts and making positive contributions to society. Likewise, it was insisted during the panel that the compliance program of a company should be visibly supported and implemented by senior management and, finally, it became clear that, although companies are responsible for establishing compliance programs, Business efforts must be complemented by government action.

Bilateral meetings

During the Seminar, Marta Blanco also held meetings with the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Nasser Kamel and with the head of the Middle East and Africa Division of the OECD Global Relations Area, Carlos Conde , with the objective of strengthening the collaboration between both institutions and assessing the possibility of carrying out future joint activities.

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