Polish lawmakers are required to separate their own and their spouse’s financial situation in their declaration of financial assets. The document must include their financial resources, their ownership in economic entities, and their shares and bonds. In addition, MPs must also list their properties and indicate how they acquired them. Polish MPs must keep a record of all positions in private and public institutions if they receive any income from them. They must also declare if they hold an honorary membership in a foundation or cooperative. Furthermore, they must also declare any revenue from other employment and movables if their value exceeds 10 000 zlotys and loans and borrowings amounting to more than 10 000 zlotys must also be included. Donations should be included if their value exceeds 50 per cent of the minimum wage for the year in question, the V4 news agency reports in an analysis of the comparative systems across Europe.
Hungarian MPs, elected for four-year terms, must abide by extremely stern rules. To enable voters who place trust in them to keep track of changes in their MP’s wealth, politicians must annually submit a declaration detailing their properties and high-value movables in their possession. In addition, Hungarian MPs must also include their investments and securities, as well as their loan debts, regardless whether the money is owed to a credit institution or a private individual. The lawmakers’ declaration of assets can be accessed by anyone on the Hungarian parliament’s website during the parliamentary term. If MPs fails to comply with their obligations, they face severe penalties.
As V4NA has previously reported, the rules the Brussels elite must adhere to are far more lenient, paving the way to corruption. In Brussels, a hotbed of corruption, MEPs only need to report if they receive any additional income on top of their monthly salaries, without detailing the exact amount. The members of the European Commission are bound by somewhat stricter rules. However, in their declaration, they must only include employment and assets that would create a conflict of interest. There is almost no way for European citizens to keep track of any changes in the wealth and financial status of Brusselites during their five years in office.
The situation is different in Austria, where the federal Transparency and Conflict of Interest Act (Unvereinbarkeits- und Transparenz-Gesetz) regulates who is required to declare their assets and exactly what to include in these declarations. MPs must publicly disclose any real estates they own, as well as their incomes from any investment and their shares and investments in companies. Austrian lawmakers are required to update their asset declarations every two years, which they must submit to the audit office. However, the audit office has no obligation to examine the authenticity of the documents.
In Belgium, members of parliament and civil servants are obliged to submit a declaration of assets. The document must include properties and high-value movable assets, as well as bonds and shares. Failure to make a declaration of assets in due time will result in a fine, and providing false information entails legal consequences. However, declarations are not public and voters cannot view them. The documents must be submitted in a sealed envelope and can only be opened at a court request or in case the suspicion of a crime arises.
Members of the Czech Republic’s two-chamber parliament are required to prepare annual declarations during their terms in office, detailing any increase in their own and their spouse’s wealth, the value of their real estates and movables, and how they aquired these assets. In addition, they must list stocks and bonds that exceed a certain amount and a similar rule applies to gifts and outstanding loan repayment debts.
In Bulgaria, lawmakers are required to include in their asset declarations any real estates and vehicles they own, stocks and bonds in their possession, and assets acquired through privatisation. High-ranking state officials are also obliged to declare income and expenses incurred in Bulgaria and abroad. This obligation applies, for example, to the head of state, MPs, the prime minister and deputy prime minister, the ministers and their deputies, as well as to the president of the Supreme Court. The asset declarations are submitted to the state audit office and are published on its website for public access.
Estonia’s Anti-corruption Act adopted in 2014 created legal basis for an obligation to submit a declaration of assets. Those required must submit a declaration within four months of taking office and each and every year thereafter. The requirement applies, among others, to the head of state, MPs and government members. The government’s duty is to set up and maintain an electronic register of asset declarations and to ensure that these are accessible to the public. The asset declaration includes real estate and motor vehicles owned by a given politician and ownership in economic entities. Receivables and payables should also be listed if they exceed four times the minimum wage. The asset declarations remain accessible for the general public for three years.
In France, members of parliament are required to submit their asset declarations immediately after they have been elected. In the document, lawmakers must detail any real estates they own and their estimated value at the time of declaration, and must also report any change without delay. The declaration must also include real estate owned abroad, high-value movables, savings, existing investments, life insurance policies and positions in companies. The asset declarations are public, except for the address of residence, relatives’ personal details and date pertaining to the location of the listed properties.
In Greece, the rules are somewhat more lenient. Politicians must declare any revenue or income they received in the three previous years, including real estates, bonds, shares and other financial interests, as well as their value. They must also list their savings accounts and any motor vehicles that are in their possession. After submitting the first asset declaration, they are only required to submit the changes, including – as an attachment – a certificate of their personal income tax payments from the year before. This rule applies not just to MPs but to their spouses, provided they live in the same household.
In Croatia MPs and high-ranking “salaried” public officials need to submit their mandatory asset declarations. Within 30 days after taking office, they must compile a document which details their previous positions, as well as their movable and immovable assets – including any properties owned by the MPs, their spouses or children – and any other streams of revenue. If a major change occurs which affects the financial situation of an MP, they must indicate that change by the end of that calendar year. However, since 2015 certain personal details do not have to be shared with the general public. Those who fail to declare their assets can expect to be fined.
In Latvia, MPs must first submit their declaration of assets within one month of taking office, and then update the document annually. Representatives may not hold shares or other property in a company that participates in public procurement procedures. Public officials may not receive income from companies registered in countries that offer lower tax levels. Their declarations must include information about their properties, including those rented by the MP in question. Shares and savings must also be declared if they exceed twenty times the current minimum wage. High-value items such as cars must also be included. The documents are available at the portal of the Latvian Tax Administration, but not every details is disclosed.
In Ireland, MPs are required to submit a declaration of assets within 30 days of taking office. The document must include the positions from which the given representative earns at least 2,000 pounds a year. Shares held must be declared if they exceed 10,000 pounds. The declaration must also include ownership of land and real estate, both rented and leased out. Lawmakers must report any paid positions (such as that of a consultant or lobbyist). The asset declarations are available on the parliament’s website.
Lithuanian representatives must file their asset declarations within one month of their appointment. The document must include information on their economic activities, including data related to family members. Gifts and donations received within 1 year prior to their appointment must also be declared, if their value exceeds fifty times the minimum wage. The document must also include transactions in excess of twenty times the minimum wage. Any changes must be reported within a week. The decision to make these documents public lies with the so-called ethics committee.
In Germany, MPs must submit their declarations within three months of taking office. The document must include previous positions, memberships of supervisory boards, advisory positions and official positions in any company. Shares must also be declared if the associated voting rights in that company exceed 25 per cent. Jobs providing a monthly income of 1,000 euros – or an annual 10,000 euros – must also be indicated. MPs who are practicing lawyers can represent the state in court if the House Speaker is notified. Politicians must also keep records of donations and gifts in a separate bank account, and include them in their declarations.
In Luxembourg, MPs are required to declare any official positions and committee memberships they held in the three years prior to their term, regardless of whether or not they held those positions while in government. Positions involving remuneration must also be indicated along with all occasional assignments providing an annual income of at least 5000 euros. The declaration must include any activity affecting the work of the given representative. MPs must submit the document once during their term and provide updates only in case there’s a change.
Members of the Italian parliament must submit a declaration after taking office. The document must include official positions they held previously in private or public offices and in national or international organisations. Politicians must also disclose their ownership in terms of movable and immovable assets, as well as shares they have and board memberships they hold. MPs may accept gifts in official capacity up to 250 euros, and these must also be included in their declarations. Election campaign spendings and donations – reaching 5,000 euros or more – received during the campaign must be declared. MPs must also indicate any change in their financial situation once their mandate expires. The documents are available on the Italian parliament’s website.
In Malta, politicians can hold part-time positions as elected representatives, which is why they must list other employment relationships and employer details in their declaration of assets. Positions in companies, cooperatives and associations should also be provided, even if the work carried out there is voluntary in nature. Representatives must declare any real estates they own and how they acquired them. Similarly, they must also include any ownership rights in economic entities as well as their savings stored in banks.
Portuguese lawmakers must indicate their economic activities carried out in the three-year period preceding their appointment. They also have to declare the remunerations from positions held in foreign companies. The statement must include all companies in which the MP, his or her spouse and children have a stake. The asset declarations are partly public.
In Romania, members of parliament are required to submit their asset declarations every year. These must include immovable and movable assets in the value of at least 5000 euros. Bank deposits and savings equlling or exceeding 5000 euros must also be declared. This also includes foreign bank accounts and foreign sources of income. Debts in the value of 5000 euros or higher must also be listed in the declaration. MPs must also declare the income of their family members, and indicate any share in an economic entity or business company.
Spanish MpPs must submit two separate declarations regarding their financial situation and other activities. The former includes real estate and high-value movable assets, along with their debts and savings. In the latter, they have to declare any remuneration received in positions held in companies. The declarations must be submitted at the time of taking office, with any changes to be indicated as and when they occur. The document must be resubmitted at the end of the politician’s term.
Slovakia’s MPs must sumbit their asset declarations in compliance with strict rules. Their declarations must contain both immovable and movable assets, provided the value of these is 35 times the minimum wage or higher. MPs are also required to list all their additional revenues if their value reaches 35 times the minimum wage. Asset declarations must be reviewed each year and those who fail to do so may face a hefty fine.
MPs in Slovenia are prohibited from holding any remunerative positions outside of parliament, except for educational, scientific, research, sports, artistic or publishing activities and farming. Further, MPs cannot hold any positions in economic entities and business companies and are not allowed to accept gifts in excess of 75 euros. Their declarations must also contain if they have full or shared ownership in any business company, as well as their taxable incomes, real estates, bank savings and cash, if it exceeds 10 thousand euros. The rules pertaining to movables or any lendings or loans are similar. MPs asset declarations are, in part, public and accessible online.
In Denmark there is no mandatory requirement for MPs to submit their asset declarations.However, those who would like to are free to declare their financial interests and activities, and these documents will then be made available to the general public.
The situation is similar in Finland, where the Grand Committee can call on the MPs to submit an asset declaration at the beginning of their terms and to provide annual updates, but there is no legal obligation forcing the deputies to do so. Those who decide to compile such a document will declare their assets publicly.
In contrast, Dutch MPs do not have to declare their assets, including their movable and immovable assets, or potential incomes and savings. Members of parliament are only required to make public any additional positions they have and the details of their foreign trips, provided that the costs of these trips are financed – in part or in full – by a third party. These details are publicly available.
MPs in Cyprus are also not legally obliged to provide too many details as there are no strict laws that would force politicians to declare their assets. Deputies must only compile and submit a conflict of interest document, which is then examined by a special committee.
Serbia, a candidate country
In Serbia MPs can engage in educational, research, scientific, cultural, humanitarian and sports activities, but if these activities generate revenue, they must submit a written declaration. This document must contain, for instance, property rights on reals estates at home and abroad, high-value immovable assets as well as securities, bonds and shares, and any revenue or remuneration that derives from copyrights, patents or similar intellectual property rights. The document must also list any other income from other public functions, jobs or activities. The asset declaration is, in part, a public document.
Ukraine, a potential candidate
The situation is different in Ukraine. As a result of its loose legal framework the country, according to a special report compiled by the European Court of Auditors( ECA) in 2021 has been suffering from high-level corruption for years. Although the EU has implemented several initiatives to reduce corruption opportunities and proposed further steps to fight graft, the report suggests that there is no significant improvement and large-scale corruption remains a key problem. According to the report, judicial reform is experiencing setbacks, anti-corruption institutions are at risk, and the trust in such institutions remains low. The authors also emphasize that oligarchs and vested interests across Ukraine are the root cause of corruption and the main obstacles to the rule of law and economic development in the country.