Tuesday

1st Dec 2020

Report: Rampant corruption is aggravating EU crisis

  • Norway and UK are the only two EU countries that offer sufficient protection for whistleblowers, says Transparency International (Photo: Stephen John Bryde)

Corruption and lack of transparency are endemic throughout the EU, with direct links to the economic crisis.

The damning conclusion of a major study by the Berlin-based NGO, Transparency International (TI), was put forward at a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday (6 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Europe by and large fails the test," said Corbus de Swardt, managing editor of TI.

In Greece and Portugal, corruption is so deeply ingrained it poses a direct threat to democratic legitimacy and jeopardises economic recovery, it said.

Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain have "serious deficits in public sector accountability, and deep rooted problems of inefficiency, malpractice and corruption, which are neither sufficiently controlled nor sanctioned," it added.

Costas Bakouris, chair of TI Greece, told EUobserver: "Corruption created all the elements of the financial problems in Greece ... [It] has imbued the mentality of the people and the institutions of the country."

He said the government has undue influence on the judiciary and the media; laws are riddled with loopholes; companies dodge tax on a vast scale; and the ruling elite treats the state like a cash-cow at the cost of the lower classes.

Evangelos Koumentakos, a Greek national and an active member of the Indignados movement who was present at the hearing, agreed with the analysis. "We are on the ground but there is only so much we can do," he said.

Meanwhile, TI's chief researcher on Portugal was even harsher.

Luis de Sousa, chief of TI Portugal, said government statements on anti-corruption measures are "bullshit."

"It is in fact easier to send to jail a retired person who has stolen a packet of rice than a banker who has stolen €3 billion ... Portugal is a country of black holes in its public accounts and budget slippages at all government levels," he added.

He accused the EU of "neglect" on Portugal, noting that even the so-called troika inspectors who govern its EU-International-Monetary-Fund bail-out, did not mention corruption in their official memos.

TI also slammed the EU institutions on their home turf in Brussels.

It pointed out that the European Commission and the EU Council preach transparency, but at the same time they are trying to push through a new regulation to make public access to internal EU documents even harder.

Meanwhile, in the European Parliament, MEPs are required to claim trips financed by lobbyists only if hotels costs surpass €300 a night or if they are flown business class.

"This is ridiculous," Dutch left-wing MEP, Dennis de Jong, said on the parliament hospitality rules.

"They [EU institutions] don't have [proper] standards in place," TI's De Swardt told EUobserver.

The European Commission plans to release its own report on corruption in the EU in late 2013.

MEPs divided on whether to punish EU agencies

MEPs are getting ready to vote on whether to punish three EU agencies for using public money for questionable purposes and for tolerating conflicts of interest.

News in Brief

  1. EU medical agency to decide on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
  2. Euro-bailout fund to also help banks
  3. Trade unions urge date for pay transparency directive
  4. 33 governments must answer youth climate lawsuit
  5. US slams Hungarian article for Soros/Hitler comparison
  6. Sturgeon doesn't rule out 2021 Scottish independence vote
  7. Hungary's Orban and Poland's Morawiecki meet again
  8. Gran Canaria migrant camp dismantled

Budget deal struck, with Hungary threat still hanging

Ultimately, the European Parliament managed to squeeze an extra €16bn in total - which will be financed with competition fines the EU Commission hands out over the next seven years, plus reallocations within the budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. China and Russia encircling divided Western allies
  2. Fish complicates last push for post-Brexit deal
  3. EU emissions down 24% on 1990 - but still off 2030 target
  4. Hungary must keep Russian vaccine within borders, says EU
  5. If EU is serious, it should use more US liquified gas, not less
  6. EU taxpayers in the dark on US corona-drug deal
  7. EU debates first names to go on human rights blacklist
  8. Lithuania bids to host EU cyber-centre

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us