Crisis-hit EU countries becoming more corrupt
Denmark has lost its position as the least corrupt country in the world to New Zealand, while Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, and Romania are becoming increasingly problematic, according to Transparency International's latest Corruption Perception Index published on Thursday (1 December).
The annual report combines results from 17 different surveys that look at enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest.
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"Eurozone countries suffering debt crises, partly because of public authorities' failure to tackle the bribery and tax evasion that are key drivers of debt crisis, are among the lowest-scoring EU countries," the watchdog said in its press release.
Italy - the latest problem-child of the sovereign debt crisis - fell to 69th place from 67th in the world listing of 183 countries, putting it equal to Ghana, and behind Turkey, Georgia and South Africa.
Compared to two years ago, its score worsened from 4.3 to 3.9 on a scale where 10 is the least corrupt and one is the most.
Greece - the first country to be hit by the euro-crisis - also saw its corruption score worsen over the last two years, down from 3.8 in 2009 to 3.4 this year, the same score as Colombia.
Neighbouring Bulgaria followed the same trend, down to 3.3 compared to 3.8 two years ago. It scored worst among EU member states, ranking 86th in the world, behind Morocco, Peru and Thailand. Staying in south-east Europe, Romania saw its score slide by 0.2 points over the past two years, down to 75th position compared to last year when it was 69th.
Croatia, whose government is to sign the EU membership treaty next week and to join EU leaders for the first time at a Brussels summit, ranked slightly better than Italy, with a score of 4.0, down 0.1 points compared to last year. It shared the same score as Slovakia, whose grade has also worsened over the last two years by 0.5 points.
The same trend was seen with other EU countries further up the ladder: Latvia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Lithuania.
Three notable exceptions to the downward revisions saw the scores of France, the UK and Germany improve over the last year: Paris and London climbed 0.2 points compared to 2010, while Berlin was lifted from 7.9 to 8.0.
Denmark and Finland share the second-best score in the world: 9.4.
Somalia and North Korea share the worst score in the world: One.