Sunday

21st Apr 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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.

A new strategy to promote gender equality through football

Recognising the passion for women's football and its potential offers vast untapped opportunities, FIFA is committed to reaching an ambitious goal: by 2026, the number of women's footballers is to be doubled from 30 million to 60 million players worldwide.

Digital 'Iron Curtain' makes no sense in 5G era

5G technology is a product of global innovation and cooperation. Drawing an Iron Curtain would therefore have an impact on all: Chinese, Europeans, Americans, and others alike.

Stakeholders' Views

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

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us