ONE Youth Ambassadors and the fight for transparency
Transparency

ONE Youth Ambassadors and the fight for transparency

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Join the fight against extreme poverty

By Liliana Caraça, ONE Youth Ambassador

Developing countries lose an estimated 1 TRILLION USD every year through a web of secret and illicit activities. Today, the EU adopted new rules against money laundering which will strengthen the fight against corruption and terrorism financing by making public who owns and controls EU companies. In addition, these rules have the potential to transform the lives of millions of people living in extreme poverty!

So, how did the ONE Youth Ambassadors help make that happen?

In 2017, my fellow ONE Youth Ambassadors (YAs) and I campaigned relentlessly with decision makers to ensure these new rules were adopted. We used our voices to ask Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and 28 EU countries to agree to a deal that would shine the light on anonymous companies and trusts and publicise key information that undermines the future of millions of people living in extreme poverty.

We started with great energy last year with a lobby day at the European Parliament. 14 YAs from all 7 of our YA programmes across Europe (and from 11 different nationalities) came together in Brussels to discuss the need for transparency with MEPs. We had 24 meetings with MEPs from 6 of the political groups to talk about transparency and what action the EU can take in the fight against corruption.

And it was a great success! Following our meetings, MEPs supported full public access to who owns companies and trusts during the negotiations of the new rules with EU countries.

In the following months, we continued to contact MEPs and EU ministers at key moments during the negotiations of the text. In May, we wrote handwritten letters to our EU Finance ministers urging them to take action against anonymous companies and trusts. In addition, ONE members helped amplify our message by signing petitions pressing for more transparency and sending emails to politicians. In total, 3324 ONE members emailed their Finance ministers!

Throughout the year, we put all of our energy into emailing, tweeting, talking to and meeting politicians who have the power in their hands to decide for more transparency. It was all worth it because we won!

Today the European Parliament adopted the Directive — after a deal was first agreed in December — which establishes how the information about who owns and controls EU companies — also known as ‘beneficial owners’ — will be made public. However, the new rules stop short of providing public access to the ownership structure of trusts – similarly secretive structures. Instead, information on trusts will be limited to people who can demonstrate a ‘legitimate interest’, including investigative journalists and NGOs.

Overall, the new rules represent progress in the fight for greater transparency but there is still more we can do. When implementing the new rules, EU Member States need to step up and go further than the EU Directive making the beneficial owners of trusts publicly available as well.

As ONE Youth Ambassadors, we will continue our fight against extreme poverty and are excited to know that our actions and voices have been heard. We are proud to have played a role in securing this important legislation and will keep on championing the need for greater transparency. We cannot be silent when funds are kept from being invested in the health, education and public services that are so needed in countries around the world.

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