Monday

19th Nov 2018

Greece most corrupt country in the EU, watchdog says

  • Greek perception is worsening year by year (Photo: jay bergsen)

Greece is perceived as EU's most corrupt state, falling behind usual suspects Bulgaria and Romania and scoring the same as China, an annual corruption index published by Transparency International shows.

Almost a year after Prime Minister George Papandreou had declared war on corruption and maladministration, the country's has slipped even further down the ranking in Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index.

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Out of 178 countries surveyed, Greece ranked 78, together with a handful of other states: China, Colombia, Lesotho, Peru, Serbia and Thailand.

The EU's newest member states Romania and Bulgaria, who last year shared the same position with Greece, have now distanced themselves to places 69 and 73, respectively.

The index is composed of 13 different expert and business surveys conducted between January 2009 and September 2010.

Just last week, senior Greek officials blamed rampant corruption in the country's chaotic healthcare system for costing several billion euros a year.

"Pharmaceutical expenditure in Greece has doubled over the last four years and is now €9 billion per year, twice that of Belgium which is about the same size," said Stephanos Komninos, head of the commerce department of the development ministry, AFP reports.

"A very large part of the expenditure is just black money which circulates among those who decide prescriptions for medications," he explained.

Mr Komninos said corruption was not limited to the healthcare sector and was widespread in all public contracting due to a lack of transparency and failures by administrators.

In April, Greece was forced to cut public spending and open up public accounts to outside auditors as part of a €110 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the EU.

Greece is by no means alone in facing the problem. The Transparency survey shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries score below five, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption).

Along with Greece, perception of the issue in Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic has also worsened considerably compared to last year.

The EU also has the winner of the index, Denmark, where good governance and transparency have kept the country for several years in a row at the highest mark - 9.3. The pole position is shared with New Zealand and Singapore.

At the bottom of the index are conflict-ridden countries such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, with Somalia coming in last with a score of 1.1.

Russia has also slid back towards the end of the ranking, scoring a mere 2.2, despite anti-corruption campaigns announced by the country's President Dmitry Medvedev.

Neigbouring Ukraine, meanwhile, has improved its score to 2.4, outranking Russia by 20 positions.

EU and China perform tricky diplomatic dance

EU and China relations kicked off 15 years ago after signing a strategic partnership. Trade has increased dramatically but human rights and other issues remain tricky as the two seek to defend international law and international trade.

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