Wednesday

17th Oct 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  2. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  3. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  4. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules
  5. Barnier open to extending Brexit transition period
  6. Juncker mulls rejection of Italy's 2019 budget
  7. German justice minister to lead SPD in European elections
  8. Tusk: May should come with new Brexit proposals

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Nordic region's top bank in new Russia funds complaint
  2. Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay
  3. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  4. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  5. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  6. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges
  7. How Juncker's 'do less' group concluded EU should not do less
  8. Cyprus and Russia: Association of Cyprus Banks responds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us