The document is drafted as an element of the National Integrity System (Εθνικό Σύστημα Ακεραιότητας) implemented in the framework of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (Εθνικό Στρατηγικό Σχέδιο Καταπολέμησης της Διαφθοράς) aimed at promoting the principles of integrity and accountability in the public sector. The Code complements the previously approved Guide on Proper Administrative Conduct (Οδηγός Ορθής Διοικητικής Συμπεριφοράς). In the event that an issue is addressed by both documents, priority is given to the norms of the Code.
The Code covers all employees of the public sector, except for:
- employees of legal entities of public law;
- officials of local government bodies of the first and second level;
- military and uniformed personnel of the Ministry of Citizen Protection (Υπουργείων Προστασίας του Πολίτη) and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy (Υπουργείων Ναυτιλίας και Νησιωτικής Πολιτικής), as well as employees of the National Intelligence Service (Εθνικής Υπηρεσίας Πληροφοριών);
- officials of the judiciary bodies, main members of the Legal Council of the State (Νομικού Συμβουλίου του Κράτους), and coroners;
- members of the faculty and research staff of higher education institutions, school and college teachers; and
- the clergy.
The Code establishes, among other things, integrity principles for relevant individuals, including:
- impartiality achieved, in particular, by preventing conflicts of interest;
- objectivity in the fulfillment of their duties;
- transparency and accountability of their activities.
In order to comply with these principles, it is recommended that officials:
1) avoid the situations where their personal interests - their own of those of third parties - influence the fulfillment of their professional duties, in particular, by:
- asking to be removed from taking individual decisions or participating in making decisions as a member of collegial bodies if such decisions concern interests of the official, his/her spouse, blood relatives up to the third degree of affinity or individuals with whom he/she is on friendly or hostile terms;
- informing their direct superior about corruption risks related to the fulfillment of their professional duties;
- avoiding to abuse their office while moving from the public sector to the private one etc.;
2) refuse material and immaterial benefits, in particular, by:
- refusing to accept gifts either directly or indirectly in relation to the exercise of their professional duties;
- refusing the services provided in relation to the exercise of their professional duties, including loans, discounts and other services in the form of money, travels, entertainment, education, tickets for events and the like and hospitality;
- informing the superior about the gifts received in relation to the exercise of their professional duties and returning them to the giver or compensating their cost, where possible, etc.
Additionally, for officials to better understand how the provisions of the Code are implemented in practice, the document provides examples of real-life situations:
- conduct of internal investigation with regard to an official who retaliates against his/her subordinates by an official who is a friend of the accused;
- adoption of the decision on the winner of a public procurement tender by a commission whose members are former employees of a bidder;
- acceptance of gifts and services from an organisation that whishes to participate in a public procurement tender by a person who is engaged in taking the decision on the outcome of the bid etc.
The Code also provides a list of questions that officials can ask themselves if they get into a similar situation, for example:
- What the short- and long-term consequences of each potential decision will be?
- What the consequences of omission will be?
- Which decision does not contradict the functions of the body (organisation) of the public sector where the individual holds a position?
- Has the official already got in similar situations and what steps were taken?
Compliance with the provisions of the Code will be monitored by individuals designated by heads of public bodies.
The document stresses that infringements of most standards enshrined in the Code will be considered as disciplinary offences and/or crimes in line with the law, which means that the Code merely complements the existing regulations.