Money, politics, and power: Corruption Risks in Europe

Vydáno 06. 06. 2012

Transparency International published a study on corruption risks within the EU member states. It focuses primarily on corruption resistance of individual institutions and the presence of measures, which prevent bribery or make bribery more difficult (‚the national integrity system‘). 

Good news first:  the Czech Republic is not at the very end of the European corruption incidence ladder – though it could appear otherwise, especially while watching national news around this time. The study shows that many countries — including those, which are considered ‚the cleanest‘ in terms of bribery incidence levels — do not have in place sufficient anti-corruption mechanisms, such as access to information or oversight of financing of political parties. 

It should not be surprising that the study lists Bulgaria and Romania as countries with the lowest levels of national integrity.

The study presents the relationship between weak national integrity, high state indebtedness, and financial crisis in a very persuasive manner. The lowest ranks in the national integrity index are occupied by countries notorious for indebtedness and economic crises:  Greece, Portugal, Spain, and, to a certain extant, Italy.

According to the study, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia show a discontinued and reversed positive trend triggered by entering into the EU. We are also part of such countries where the public feels the strongest impact of corruption. The aforementioned group of three countries contrasts with other group where countries have similar historical background, only where results are far better – Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovenia.

On the opposite pole of the imaginary corruption ladder are anti-corruption moguls:  Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, followed by: Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and Great Britain.

With regards to efficiency and anti-corruption resistance of state anti-corruption pillars, the situation in Europe is similar to the one in the Czech Republic. The strongest pillars are considered the highest inspection offices, ombudsman office, and institutions overseeing elections. The weakest pillars would include anti-bribery agencies, business, public sector, and political parties. 

However, deviations from the European standard do exist – especially in the judicial and governmental sector, where the Czech Republic scored a level lower than what is the European average.

So what is our conclusion?  Economic prosperity and the degree of state’s indebtedness are closely tied to corruption levels. Without an effective war on corruption which would include strengthening of institutional resistance the efforts to balance out state budget and achieve economic growth won’t be successful. 

The study Money, Polictics, Power: Corruption Risks in Europe was presented on today’s press conference in Brussels.  You can download the Czech report here for comparison. 

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