Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

  • The commission first-ever rule of law report highlighted extremely long criminal proceedings as hampering anti-corruption efforts in Italy, Spain and Latvia (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law, published on Wednesday (30 September), has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption frameworks in some member sates.

Corruption remains a matter of public concern in the bloc, with more than 70 percent of Europeans believing that their government's anti-fraud efforts are ineffective.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

The EU executive considers that it must be able to rely on impartial justice systems, robust legislation and media pluralism.

But two years after the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed for reporting on corruption, the commission found that Malta is still mired in corruption.

The investigation into her death has revealed "deep corruption patterns" as well as strong public demand for reforms, according to the commission report.

After the resignation of primer minister Joseph Muscat in December 2019, the country launched a reform package to strengthen the institutional anti-corruption framework - including the transfer of prosecution responsibilities from the police to the attorney general.

Similarly, in Slovakia, the new government elected earlier this year has made the fight against corruption one of its priorities, in the wake of the public outcry over the revelations made by the investigations into the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak.

In Croatia, the commission is especially concerned about corruption at a local level due to regional elected officials and the management of state-owned companies. In Cyprus, meaningful anti-corruption legislation is still pending.

Meanwhile, the report indicates that some countries, such as Hungary and Poland, have weakened the independence of their judiciary system and media freedom - reducing their ability to prosecute cases of high-level corruption.

"When serious allegations arise [in Hungary], there is a systematic lack of determined action to investigate and prosecute corruption cases involving high-level officials or their immediate circle," the report finds.

Likewise, the EU executive identified "structural weaknesses" related to the existing asset declaration schemes and lobbying regulations in Poland - where concerns also exist over the independence of the main anti-corruption institutions.

Bulgaria

Meanwhile, the commission concluded that the "complex and formalistic" Bulgarian criminal system creates obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of high-level corruption.

That has been one of the key aspects raised throughout the ongoing protests, for which EU commissioner for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, voiced her support on Wednesday.

"When people are expressing such dissatisfaction and such mistrust, and a very clear feeling that it is not possible to receive justice from the state, then this is a serious thing to be considered by the national authorities," she said.

Additionally, the recent scandals in the Czech Republic at both national and European level have raised concerns that high-level corruption cases are not pursued adequately.

Following an investigation between 2016 and 2017 by the European anti-fraud office, the commission launched audits to examine possible conflicts of interest related to the use of EU funds.

The first-ever rule of law report also found that anti-corruption measures in some countries, such as Italy, Spain and Latvia, are hampered by extremely long criminal proceedings.

Meanwhile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands are considered the least corrupt countries in the EU since they have built a reputation of strong integrity in their public administration and a culture of transparency - with few formal rules and controls.

Hungary drops sharply in global anti-corruption index

"Covid-19 is not just a health and economic crisis. It is a corruption crisis. And one that we are currently failing to manage," Delia Ferreira Rubio, Transparency International's chair said.

Latest News

  1. EU must overhaul Africa trade offer to parry China, warns MEP
  2. EU watchdog faults European Commission over Libya
  3. Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour
  4. The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity
  5. Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK
  6. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  7. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  8. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us