Sunday

29th May 2016

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.

Finance ministers baulk at tax-avoidance rules

Member states will discuss again in June a proposed directive to outlaw practices used by large companies to avoid paying taxes. Meanwhile, the European Parliament makes progress on its probe of Panama Papers.

News in Brief

  1. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law
  2. Ukraine bans Gorbachev for backing Crimea's seizure
  3. Dozens dead in two shipwrecks outside Libya
  4. Slovak PM says his country is no place for Muslims
  5. Juncker's spin-doctor warns of populist 'horror'
  6. EU urges Hungary to end discrimination of Roma children
  7. Majority of voters think UK will stay in EU
  8. Leading MEP says Greek bailout will not work

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan