Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

Stakeholder

When it comes to corruption, perception and reality do not (always) match

  • Norway is the world’s least corrupt country according to a new Index of Public Integrity.

A new Index of Public Integrity aims at measuring corruption levels around the world using big data and quantifiable criteria.

The world’s least corrupt country is not Denmark. It is Norway.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

While this does not sound like revolutionary news, the reason for this slight shift is not updated data, but rather a new way to measure corruption.

Since 1995, when it was first calculated, Transparency Internationals’ Corruption Perception Index has established itself as the go-to reference on corruption levels. Norway comes in 5th in this index.

The new ranking, in which Norway comes in first, is established according to a new Index of Public Integrity calculated by the ANTICORRP project, a EU-founded research group. The index, the researchers claim, measures corruption through objective variables, instead of relying on the perception of corruption levels in a country.

“While merit has to go to [the Transparency International] index, it is a subjective index,” said Alessio Terzi, an affiliate fellow at a Bruegel event in Brussels who introduced a talk focussing on the index.

The new measure mostly correlates with the legacy Corruption Perception Index as well as with World Bank figures on corruption control, but also shows that, in Europe, people in Italy think their government is more corrupt than it actually is, while Germans have a slightly too favourable view of their administration.

Germany only 8th in ANTICORRP Public Integrity Index

Italy ends 27th in corruption perception, but 20th in the Public Integrity Index, on a list of 28 European countries for which both indexes provide data, according to an analysis by VoxEurop.

Germany, despite taking 6th place in corruption perception, only ends 8th on the ANTICORRP index. Austria falls from 10th to 14th, Belgium from 9th to 11th, and Croatia from 21st in Corruption Perception to 28th in the Public Integrity Index. The Czech Republic slightly improves, from 19th to 15th.

ANTICORRP’s Index of Public Integrity uses publicly available big data in six key fields which the researchers identified to measure corruption: judicial independence, administrative burden, trade openness, budget transparency, e-citizenship, and freedom of the press.

The criteria has been selected based on a theoretical framework by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, a professor at the Hertie School of Governance and a team at the European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS). ANTICORRP researchers also use a broader definition of corruption, which also includes the attribution of public contracts or funds to political friends, among other criteria.

Corruption, Mungiu-Pippidi said at Bruegel in Brussels, is “any form of favouritism, legal or illegal, resulting in privilege or discrimination of citizens of companies by a public authority.”

“We are worried about bribery, but we are much more worried about political favouritism,” Mihaly Fazekas, a research associate at the department of sociology at the University of Cambridge who also contributed to the ANTICORRP project, said.

According to Mungiu-Pippidi, there are only about 20 countries in which public resources are fairly distributed. New Zealand (4th), the U.S. (10th), South Korea (16th) and Costa Rica (18th) are the non-European countries among the top 20 on the Index of Public Integrity.

Chad and Venezuela come in last of the 105 countries included in the index. These two also score badly on the Corruption Perception index, with places 147 and 158 respectively of 168 countries included in Transparency International’s index.

Finding new ways to fight corruption

Corruption remains an issue in Europe, accounting for half the loss of trust in European institutions between the last two rounds of European elections.

“If all EU countries were to control corruption at the levels of the most advanced EU states, we would immediately earn half the EU budget for this year,” mostly in taxes, said Mungiu-Pippidi.

Yet, Europe has been doing more than ever in its existence to fight corruption, said Carl Dolan, director of the Transparency International Europe Office in Brussels, even if European legal frameworks remain weak and more still needs to be done.

The index by ANTICORRP also aims at highlighting the key areas to work on in order to curb corruption. The index “shows the significant areas for reforms,” its website reads. “Unless a country does well in all these areas it is unlikely to be able to control corruption.”

The biggest difference between the best and lowest scoring country in the EU is the level of judicial independence. Scores range from 9.86 out of 10 for Finland to 3.37 for the Slovak Republic.

Freedom of the press scores go from 5.21 (Greece) to 10 (Norway and Sweden). Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Lithuania rank worst in budget transparency, scoring below 7, while Ireland and France lead for trade openness.

One of the greatest enemies of progress in our time

At the world’s first international anti-corruption summit, not many countries showed up on 12 May in Lancaster House, near Buckingham Palace, London.

David Cameron, at the summit, called corruption “the cancer at the heart of so many of the world’s problems” and “one of the greatest enemies of progress in our time.”

After a day of talks, around 40 countries signed a commitment to “expose corruption wherever it is found, to pursue and punish those who perpetrate, facilitate or are complicit in it, to support the communities who have suffered from it, and to ensure it does not fester in our government institutions, businesses and communities”.

The public integrity index, the researchers say, provides a new tool to measure concrete effects beyond the headlines of such policies. But its reliance on public and open source data is one of its weaknesses.

“The important thing is that this data is out there,” Fazekas said. “Once it’s out there, we have built the tools to look at the data.”

Yann Schreiber is a Franco-Austrian journalist. A graduate in political science, he has been publishing his works in Der Standard, Le Journal International and Libération and is currently writing for Ijsberg Magazine. He is the German editor of VoxEurop.

Corruption costs EU €71bn a year

EU-wide legal instruments and better coordination among policy makers would reduce the cost of organised crime and corruption costs on European economy and society, a study says.

Slovakia votes with migrants and corruption in mind

Outgoing social-democratic PM Fico expected to win new mandate Saturday, but might be forced into coalition with right-wingers after a campaign marked by anti-migrant rhetoric and corruption deja vu.

The EU cannot let its patients down

Public health is being pushed into the background at EU level, while a cooperative and patient-centred approach could help to achieve a fairer and better healthcare system for European citizens.

We must renew Europe for all Europeans

A call for socialist values and rights at a time when Europe is facing a number of existential threats, says a group of progressive European affairs ministers.

Stakeholders' Views

This EUobserver section provides a platform for EU stakeholders to communicate positions, views and activities.

News in Brief

  1. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  2. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  3. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  4. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  5. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them
  6. Turkish referendum voting starts in Europe
  7. Le Pen says she lacks election funds
  8. UN dinner for Cyprus leaders to restart stalled peace talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  2. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  4. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  5. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsDomestic Violence in Tajikistan: Time to Right the Wrongs
  7. European Trust SummitCorporate Strategy and Public Affairs in a Low-Trust World - Conference 31 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Agreement Reached to Involve Consumers in Financial Services Policymaking
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cities Gather Against Violent Extremism & Introduce Nordic Safe Cities
  10. World VisionFears and Dreams of Syria's Children and Their Peers Around the World
  11. Malta EU 2017Maltese Presidency and EP Agree on Visa Liberalisation for Ukraine
  12. Mission of China to the EUEU Window Chinese Government Academic Scholarship 2017/18 - Apply Now