Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

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.

EU should raise own taxes, says report

A group chaired by former Italian PM and EU commissioner Mario Monti says Brexit should be used to create EU-level levies to depend less on member states contributions, and to abolish member states rebates in the EU budget.

News in Brief

  1. VW's internal Dieselgate probe not yet done
  2. Israel defies EU policy with huge settlement expansion
  3. Martin Schulz to be candidate for German chancellor
  4. EU commission gives MEPs Dieselgate paper at last moment
  5. EU parliament committee backs EU-Canada deal
  6. UK MPs must vote on Brexit trigger, court rules
  7. Greek island mayors plead for the transfer of migrants
  8. Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip amid war crimes probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: no Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  3. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  4. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  5. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  7. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  8. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  10. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  11. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  12. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism

Latest News

  1. No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission
  2. EU to Trump: Protectionism is 'doomed to fail'
  3. The French town that swung from socialist to far-right
  4. UK parliament must give Brexit approval, judges rule
  5. 'No indication' VW used EU loans to cheat
  6. Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin
  7. Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'
  8. EU to step up effort against Russian and Islamist propaganda