Wednesday

22nd Sep 2021

Survey: Croatia and Slovenia most corrupt in EU

  • Croatia is one of the most corrupt countries on the continent, according to a new survey (Photo: JasonParis)

Croatia, about to enter the EU, is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe according to a new survey. But Slovenia - an EU and eurozone member - is even worse.

The findings come in an annual report on corporate graft published on Tuesday (7 May) by the US-based financial services company, Ernst & Young.

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

It interviewed 3,459 company board members in 36 countries worldwide, including 22 EU member states.

It asked whether businesses offer bribes to win or retain contracts or if they deliberately misstate their financial performance.

Ninety percent of people in Croatia, which is to join the EU on 1 July, said "bribery/corrupt practices happen widely in business in this country."

The figure was 96 percent in Slovenia - which joined the EU in 2004 and which adopted the euro in 2007 - higher even than Kenya, on 94 percent.

Greece and Slovakia came next on 84 percent, followed by the Czech republic (73%), Portugal (72%), Hungary (70%), Spain (65%), Romania (61%) and Italy (60%).

The EU's three largest economies scored much better - France was on 27 percent, Germany 30 percent and the UK 37 percent.

Nordic countries Finland and Sweden came out as the least corrupt on 12 percent each.

Ernst & Young's top man on fraud investigations, David L. Stulb, linked the results to the financial crisis. He said in a foreword to the paper: "Our survey shows that to find growth and improved performance in this environment, an alarming number appear to be comfortable with … unethical conduct."

The report comes amid worries that Croatia will backslide on reform after it joins the Union.

A European Commission paper in March red-flagged the issue, urging Zagreb to crack down on organised crime and to adopt new measures to safeguard public tenders, to stop abuses in state-owned firms and to protect whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, the suspicion that Slovenia's ailing banks might be misstating their financial performance will not help Ljubljana to reassure markets that it does not need a bailout.

The Ernst & Young report also comes amid a new EU attempt to clean up one aspect of the shadow economy - tax evasion.

Speaking with Finnish PM Jyrki Katainen in Helsinki on Monday, EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy noted that EU leaders at a summit on 22 May will "step up the fight against tax evasion and tax fraud."

The EU tax commissioner, Algirdas Semeta, the same day told MEPs in Brussels he wants to tap "the huge pot of uncollected taxes which escape the public purse through fraud or evasion."

He added: "fraudsters and evaders have been able to use our single market as a playground for their activities."

Semeta is trying to get EU states to agree to automatic exchange of information on foreigners' bank accounts and to farm out the rules to nearby tax havens, such as Switzerland.

Austria and Luxembourg had opposed the move for years, but they recently changed their mind following German pressure.

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. French MEPs lead bogus EU monitoring of Russia vote
  2. Europeans think new 'Cold War' is here - but not for them
  3. Spain wants energy price discussion at next EU summit
  4. Trust in Dutch government drops, but not for Rutte
  5. Long ago, there was another Angela Merkel
  6. The first anniversary of the Abraham Accords
  7. First refugee deaths confirmed on Belarus-EU border
  8. EU kept in dark on ex-commissioner's new lobby job

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us