Integrity in EU Public Policies in Time of COVID-19 Pandemic
Purpose: The main objective of the article is to analyse the role and the importance of the principle of integrity in public policies in EU countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study hypothesizes that during the COVID-19 pandemic in many EU countries the principle of integrity in public policies was not respected, and numerous violations of it indicate the instrumental use of the crisis for unethical actions, or the weakness of public institutions in dealing with the crisis. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study uses analysis of source literature, analysis of reports and expertise, including qualitative and quantitative data. The research focuses on the analysis of institutional integrity in the public sphere, because public institutions should be the guarantor of security and stability during the crisis. The research adopted a neo-institutional perspective assuming an analysis of the process of shaping rules and norms in the public sphere, stability and durability of public institutions, especially in the period of rapid social and economic changes. Findings: The results of the research confirmed the research hypothesis - the COVID-19 pandemic has been instrumentally used in many EU countries as a justification for unethical actions in both the economic and political spheres. The risk of unethical practices particularly concerned public procurement policy, but also respect for democratic principles. Violation of the principle of integrity takes the form not only of corruption, conflict of interest, fraud, nepotism, but also undermining the principles of the democratic system, e.g. manipulating elections or limiting parliamentary control of the government. Practical Implications: The research points to the need to develop a common code of good practice for EU countries to comply with the principle of integrity in public policies during the crisis, and may also be the basis for the preparation of recommendations. Originality/Value: To date, there has been no research on the principle of integrity in public policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the analysis has made it possible to fill this research gap and has indicated an increase in the risk of unethical activities during the health crisis in the EU.