Wednesday

20th Jan 2021

€120 billion lost to corruption in EU each year

  • 'Deep-rooted corruption is a part of reality in many countries,' says EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom (Photo: European Commission)

An estimated €120 billion is lost to corruption each year throughout the 27 member states, the EU commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstrom has said.

“In public procurement, studies suggest that up to 20 to 25 percent of the public contracts’ value may be lost to corruption,” said Malmstrom on Tuesday (5 March) at an anti-corruption seminar in Göteborg, Sweden.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) noted in a report out in the 2012 that the worse offenders in public procurement cases are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Romania and Slovakia.

Public procurement contracts in the EU have an estimated worth of around 15 percent of the EU’s total GDP.

But EU legislation designed to ensure good governance on the contracts are often flouted, says TI. In some cases, the complexities of the laws and administrative burdens provide an additional incentive to find loopholes.

As an example, the transparency group found that three out of five managers of small companies in the Czech Republic believe they have to resort to bribery and kickbacks to win a public contract.

Europe’s poorest nation Bulgaria does not publish final procurement contracts. This practice is also common in Italy, notes the group.

In some cases, member states rolled back progress on fighting corruption after joining the Union.

TI says corruption-fighting practices in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have all weakened since EU accession.

It also notes that Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have serious deficits in public sector accountability.

“The links between corruption and ongoing-financial and fiscal crisis in these countries can no longer be ignored,” says TI.

The European Commission hopes to spur political will among member state leaders to tackle the problem by publishing an anti-corruption report later this year.

The report will address corruption trends across the EU and the policies in place to fight it.

Malmstrom said the report, by rendering public corruption practices in individual member states, will “to some extent, stimulate political commitment to fight corruption more vigorously.”

Meanwhile, Finland on Tuesday cited corruption as the primary reason why it too, along with Germany, will block Romania and Bulgaria’s bid to join the passport-free Schengen zone, reports Finish state-broadcaster Yle.

“Too many questions were left unanswered which we now have to deal with,” said Finland’s Interior minister Päivi Räsänen.

EU ministers of interior are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the issue, among others.

Germany to veto Schengen enlargement

Germany says it will veto Romania and Bulgaria's bid to join the border-free Schengen area at a meeting in Brussels later this week.

EU Commission mulls police access to encrypted apps

The European Commission has not ruled out allowing police access to encrypted services. Instead, it says a balance needs to be found to protect rights while at the same time offering some leeway to law enforcement.

Muscat poker-faced in Malta inquiry into journalist murder

"How well I'm screwed," was the then Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat's first thought on 16 October 2017, when he found out his country's best-known journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, had just been murdered by a car bomb.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit prompted finance exodus from UK to France
  2. Italian PM Conte wins confidence vote in Senate
  3. Borrell washes hands of EU's Venezuela policy
  4. Russia backs Greece in eastern Mediterranean dispute
  5. 'Ski-holiday' Switzerland reaches new infection high
  6. Germany extends lockdown, others expected to follow
  7. Barnier to be Brexit special adviser to von der Leyen
  8. EU commisioner to visit Bosnia's Lipa migrant camp

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. MEPs call to halt Russia pipeline over Navalny arrest
  2. EU targets vaccinating 70% of adults by summer
  3. Portugal pushes to start delayed 'future EU' conference
  4. EU Parliament pressing for inquiry into Frontex
  5. Untapped potential of the single market could boost European recovery
  6. Biden's 'Age of Aquarius'? Mars and Venus will clash over China
  7. The new dimension of 'ever-closer union'
  8. What do new CDU chief's pro-Russia views mean for Europe?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us