For the first time in its history, the European Union (EU), more precisely the European Commission, has launched an anti-corruption report. This latter gives a reflection of the current status of corruption in Europe, defining corruption as an “abuse of power for personal gain”. Although each country individually knows that these type of practices plague their political and economical settings, this has long been a taboo subject at the scale of the EU. More than that, developed countries often have the bad habit of pointing fingers at corruption practices in developing countries, while themselves are far from being free from blame. Indeed, as the report claims, “The Member States of the EU are not immune to this reality.”.
Several ideas ensue from the report, that also intends to prevent and fight corruption. First, that all Member States are affected by corruption, even if in different degrees. Indeed, Scandinavian counties, as well as Germany, have much higher levels of transparency than countries such as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy or Ireland. Secondly, it acknowledges that virtually all Member States have the needed mechanisms to fight against corruption, but that in practice these tend to fail in acting against it. More importantly, it finds out that corruption costs every year more than €120 billion per year to the EU (almost the equivalent to the annual budget of the EU)!
According to this report (thanks to a Eurobarometer analysis) and to the organization Transparency International, 76% of the Europeans who responded, perceive that there is a lot of corruption in their country. Moreover, 26% of respondents believe this corruption affects their daily lives and 56% believe this is an increasing phenomenon in the past three years. Finally, 40% of companies consider that corruption damages their ability and liberty for doing business.
It is interesting to note that, despite being groundbreaking in EU policy, this report did headlines amongst the european media but passed mainly unremarked amongst Member States and the international press. From now on, every two years the Commission intends to launch a new report to reevaluate and make an état des lieux of corruption in the EU. Let us hope that this will serve as an incentive for Member States’ politicians to be more respectful of the power endowed to them by the people. Indeed, the end of corruption can only be positive for Europe’s growth and for its “competitiveness in the global economy”.
Read this interesting article by Transparency International that says “We have an EU Anti-Corruption Report: So now what?” and gives a critical perception of the report.