European Commission Calls Member Nations Out for High Corruption

Corruption within the European Union costs its economy a staggering 120 billion euro annually, and a new report slams the efforts in many nations as “uneven,” if not half-hearted.

The European Commission’s EU Anti-Corruption Report released this week indicated that more than three-quarters of Europeans believe corruption is widespread despite stated increased efforts to stymie such practices and 56% believe matters have worsened during the past three years. The report noted that criminal laws banning corruption are largely in place, but enforcement is wildly inconsistent from nation to nation and intense investigations rarely occur within the areas with the worst reputations.

The report cited a recent Eurobarometer survey on corruption relevant to businesses, noting that 35% of those polled reported that corruption prevented them from winning a contract in the last year. The statistics indicate that corruption was most pervasive in construction, when looking at sectors, and Bulgaria, Slovakia and Cyprus, when looking at nations. Frequent complaints included contract specifications that are “tailor-made for specific companies,” conflicts of interest in bid evaluation, collusive bidding and unclear evaluation criteria. The Commission study also noted that problems with bribery were seen as most pervasive in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

“Corruption undermines confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states from much-needed tax revenue,” said EU Commission for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom. “Member states have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s report shows that it is far from enough.”

Germany, Finland and Luxembourg were noted to have low-levels of corruption and bribery and member states including Ireland and Malta, while still troubled, have shown real commitment to improvement in recent months and years.

- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer

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