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27th Jan 2022

Slovenian corruption estimated at 7.5% of GDP

  • Prime minister Janez Janša's government has a bad track record in tackling corruption (Photo: European Union, 2020)
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Slovenia misses out on €3.5bn a year due to corruption, chairman of the country's anti-corruption commission Robert Šumi warned on Monday (6 December).

He made the remarks at a press conference ahead of the UN International Anti-Corruption Day on Thursday.

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The impact of corruption on the country is pervasive.

Šumi said that successful prevention would enable better access to health and social services, better education, and more jobs, calculating that this €3.5bn amounts up to 7.5 percent of Slovenia's GDP.

Were it not for these costs, he said, every retiree in the country could receive an additional €460 a month in state pension; every person could receive €1,660 a year in state funding, effectively ending poverty in the country.

Šumi added that anti-corruption rules in the country were "exemplary" - but are not being followed by the countries officials.

To help solve this, Slovenia should transpose the European directive on protecting whistleblowers into national law as soon as possible, creating a safe environment for people to report crime and transgressions.

EU lawmakers have in the past voiced serious concern on the rule of law in Slovenia.

Slovenia, the current EU president, implemented none of the 15 anti-corruption recommendations it received in recent years from the Group of States against Corruption (Greco), a pan-European watchdog.

EU chief prosecutor visits

Laura Kövesi, chief of the European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO), the new body designed to claw back misspent EU funds, visited Slovenia on Monday (6 December) to discuss the recent appointment of two delegated prosecutors.

In November, the Slovenian government finally nominated Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir to the EPPO, after the country's prime minister Janez Janša had personally delayed the process.

Eler and Oštir were approved by the council of the EPPO - consisting of prosecutors from 22 member states - shortly after.

Their mandate is for five years and started on 1 December, Kövesi told press on Monday.

But in a surprise move, the Slovenian justice ministry has proposed amendments that would give the government a greater say in the appointment process, taking the EPPO council out of the equation.

In response, Kövesi said on Monday that European delegated prosecutors are appointed by the council, adding that "no one can dismiss the EU prosecutors without the consent of the council."

Kövesi met with representatives from the judiciary - but did not meet with Slovenian justice minister Marjan Dikaučič.

"I wasn't born yesterday. I have experienced all sorts of attacks, intimidation and tricks to reduce the independence of the judiciary. You don't need a frontal assault. Small steps can have the same effect," Kövesi said.

"You get fewer people, less money, until all of a sudden the whole system has changed. So I would like to say to my colleagues in Slovenia: stay vigilant, speak up, you are not alone."

Like all EU residents, Slovenian citizens can report fraud or corruption in their country to the EPPO.

EU chief prosecutor accuses Slovenia of interference

Europe's chief prosecutor Laura Kövesi warned that the EU budget might not be safe because Slovenia continues to delay naming delegated prosecutors to the agency. "We have to work as if our office does not exist in Slovenia," she said.

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