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IP/09/1899

Brussels, 9 December 2009

9 December – International Anti-Corruption Day: Say "No" to corruption

Corruption remains an obstacle to development and threatens economic recovery. No country in the world is immune to corruption and that also applies to each of the 27 EU Member States. The last Eurobarometer survey showed that 78% of European citizens consider corruption to be a major problem in their country. The Commission is determined to step up the fight against corruption. The Commission proposed in the Stockholm Programme to carry out periodical evaluations of anti-corruption efforts in the EU-27, to foster cooperation and promote good practices.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security said: "The Commission will not turn a blind eye to the fact that corruption remains also in our Member States a persisting problem".

The European Commission publishes today a Eurobarometer study on "Attitudes of Europeans towards corruption".

Corruption has many faces, from illegal financing of political parties to incur future favours, to a tool for organised crime which seeks to penetrate governments and law enforcement in order to protect its interests, a kickback to get a public contract or a bribe to avoid paying a fine for a traffic offence. As no country or institution is immune from corruption, responses to corruption and its effects can make the difference if efficient and tailored made to a given context.

While EU as a whole stands out at global level as a front-runner in the fight against corruption, Eurobarometer data indicate a generalised perception that efforts seem to slow down in some European countries.

Clear political determination from leaders and decision-makers across the EU, awareness among Member States, effective measures to tackle corruption at all levels and active participation of civil society are key elements of an integrated anti-corruption policy that answers the expectations of European citizens.

The Vice-President added: In order to take our anti-corruption policy forward, in its Communication on Stockholm programme the Commission proposed to set up a mechanism for regular evaluation of efforts in the fight against corruption across EU . The Commission is confident that the adoption of the Stockholm Programme will allow a timely implementation of provisions concerning the evaluation mechanism.

The Commission reaffirms its intention to reduce corruption at all levels in a systemic way. One of the core aims of the EU is indeed to offer its citizens the benefits of an Area of Justice, Freedom and Security without internal borders. The public consultation leading to the Stockholm Programme revealed that 88% of the respondents called for more EU policy action in countering corruption. A range of measures were already adopted at EU level, aiming at p rotecting the EU's financial interests, ensuring that corrupt public officials can be investigated and prosecuted, addressing private sector corruption, and improving the exchange of best practices within the framework of an anti-corruption network .

In the aftermath of the ratification the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the Commission participated in the Conference of States Parties, in November 2009. The Commission was happy to see the outcome of complex negotiations leading to the establishment of a review mechanism for implementation of the Convention. The Commission will work with other States Parties to make sure that this peer review mechanism becomes an important tool of promoting anti-corruption agenda globally.

Special Eurobarometer - Attitudes of Europeans towards Corruption November 2009

Key findings of the survey

  • The majority of Europeans - 78% - agree that corruption is a major problem for their country. There is a large variation across Member States ranging from a high of 95% of respondents in Greece, to 22% of respondents in Denmark.

  • There is widespread agreement across Europe that corruption exists in local (81%), regional (81%), national (83%) and EU institutions (76%).

  • More than half of all respondents hold the opinion that there is widespread corruption amongst national politicians and amongst officials responsible for awarding public tenders and building permits.

  • In general, public opinion has become more negative since the last survey in Autumn 2007, with higher levels of agreement that corruption is a problem for all levels of government, and across a range of professions including the police and customs services.

  • Most Europeans agree that corruption has always existed and is inevitable, but only nine percent of Europeans have personally experienced corruption in the past 12 months. If they were to experience corruption personally, Europeans are most likely to trust the police, the courts or their national ombudsman to help them.

  • Younger Europeans (15-24 year olds) are the most optimistic, with generally lower levels of agreement that corruption is a problem, and higher agreement that enough is being done to combat corruption.

  • The close links between business and politics is the most common cause Europeans give for corruption, followed by insufficient action by governments to prevent corruption. In fact, most Europeans agree that tougher penalties and more successful prosecutions are needed to combat corruption.

  • Almost one third of Europeans agree that the EU helps to reduce corruption in their country.

For more information on the activities of Vice-President Barrot, please see

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/barrot/index_en.htm

For more information on the international anti-corruption day go to

http://www.unodc.org/yournocounts/

For more information on the 2009 Eurobarometer on corruption go to

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb_special_en.htm


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