Brussels, 7 December 2012
Statement by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on the 10th International Anti-Corruption Day
"Anti-corruption efforts need to shift up a gear. It is disappointing that three quarters of Europeans continue to find corruption to be a major problem in their societies. More worrying, almost half of all Europeans think that the level of corruption in their country has risen over the past three years (IP/12/135). But it is not just a question of perception. Corrupt practices carry high costs for the economy - an estimated 120 billion euro of taxpayers' money is lost each year to corruption. This should serve as a wake-up call.
As pointed to by the recently published Transparency International report for 2012, despite several anti-corruption legal instruments and standards already in place at the European and international level, many EU States are falling behind on the implementation and some others still lack robust anti-corruption rules. There are attempts to curb the problem and there are of course achievements in terms of transparency and accountability, but overall results in tackling corruption across the European Union remain insufficient.
Corruption often paves the way for organised criminal activity, such as trafficking in human beings, in drugs and in weapons, money laundering and fraud. So we must widen the net. Earlier this year, I proposed new rules for confiscating criminal assets to better fight corruption as a crime (IP/12/235). Boosting asset confiscation will hamper criminal activities and protect our economy against criminal infiltration and corruption.
This proposal is part of a series of measures for a more convincing anti-corruption track record in Europe (IP/11/678). I already made it clear that more than anything, we need political will and commitment by leaders and decision-makers at all levels. In 2013 the Commission will publish its first report on anti-corruption measures in all EU Member States, on what works and what does not, as well as offering suggestions for further improvements.
The aim of the report will be to spur countries into action and keep anti-corruption efforts high on the agenda. With an outspoken account of trends and weaknesses, with concrete recommendations, I am convinced that we will stimulate determination at the very top to address those challenges more seriously. And if we can go that extra mile we will hopefully foster trust and confidence, which is very much needed for the credibility of politics and democracy."