Thursday

16th Aug 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. Salvini questions EU 'constraints' after bridge collapse
  2. Bosnian Serbs to rewrite 1995 Srebrenica genocide report
  3. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  4. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  5. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  6. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  7. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  8. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  2. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate
  3. EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU
  4. How long can Bulgaria keep facing both East and West?
  5. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  6. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  7. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  8. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us