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Frequently Asked Questions: the EU Anti-Corruption Report

European Commission - MEMO/14/68   03/02/2014

Other available languages: none

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 3 February 2014

Frequently Asked Questions: the EU Anti-Corruption Report

Why an EU Anti-Corruption Report?

In June 2011, the Commission adopted an anti-corruption package (IP/11/678 and MEMO/11/376), announcing its intention to publish an EU Anti-Corruption Report every two years on Member States' efforts to tackle corruption, to stimulate political will to fight corruption and improve the coherence of anti-corruption policies and actions taken by Member States.

EU Member States have in place most of the necessary legal instruments and institutions to prevent and fight corruption. However, the results they deliver are not satisfactory across the EU. Anti-corruption rules are not always vigorously enforced, systemic problems are not tackled effectively enough and the relevant institutions do not always have sufficient capacity to enforce the rules. Declared intentions are still too distant from concrete results, and genuine political will to eradicate corruption often appears to be missing.

Today the Commission publishes its EU Anti-Corruption Report for the first time. By presenting an analysis of corruption within each of the EU's Member States, the steps taken to prevent and fight it, and possible ways to improve them, it aims to support and the anti-corruption work in EU Member States, shore up political commitment to the fight against corruption, and identify how the European dimension can help.

How has the Report been prepared?

The Report has been prepared, written and adopted by the Commission.

The Report is based on data from existing anti-corruption monitoring mechanisms (GRECO, OECD, UNCAC), as well as information from EU Member States' public authorities, civil society, independent experts and academic research. Information from the Commission's departments and from EU agencies in connected policy areas (e.g. public procurement, regional policy) were also used. Finally, indicators of perception of, and experience with, corruption (e.g. the Eurobarometer on corruption) were taken into account.

A group of experts on corruption coming from a wide variety of backgrounds was set up to advise the Commission. A network of research correspondents also collected and processed information from each Member State.

The Commission also organised workshops and expert meetings with the participation of national authorities, researchers, NGOs, journalists and business representatives.

Which forms of corruption does the Report look at?

In line with international legal instruments (e.g. UNCAC), the Report defines corruption broadly as any 'abuse of power for private gain'. The Report therefore covers all types of corruption, including political corruption, bribery of public officials, and private-to-private corruption.

What are the main suggestions included in the Report?

A closer look at the situation in individual countries reveals a variety of approaches to address corruption problems with more or less effective outcomes. Taking into account the specificities of each Member State, the Report makes suggestions for how to step up efforts against corruption and highlights good practices. The Commission suggests, for one or more Member State, for example to:

  1. strengthen accountability and integrity standards;

  2. fine-tune and strengthen internal control mechanisms within public authorities;

  3. strengthen asset disclosure systems;

  4. improve effectiveness of policies for addressing conflicts of interest;

  5. implement more effective policies to address corruption risks at local level and in specific areas or sectors vulnerable to corruption;

  6. improve effectiveness of courts, prosecution services, and law enforcement bodies against corruption;

  7. safeguard the independence and capacity of anti-corruption agencies, there where such agencies are in place;

  8. ensure that criminal proceedings on corruption charges concerning elected politicians are not obstructed;

  9. implement effective protection mechanisms for whistleblowers;

  10. limit risks of foreign bribery, notably in vulnerable sectors such as defence;.

  11. take more determined measures to ensure transparency of lobbying;

  12. develop mechanisms and policies to effectively address corruption risks related to state-owned and state-controlled companies;

  13. further develop e-tools to enhance transparency of public spending and decision making in public administration.

What are the main suggestions in the area of public procurement?

Corruption in the area of public procurement is a clear barrier to competition in the internal market of the EU. The country chapters where public procurement issues are highlighted, and the thematic section of the EU Anti-Corruption Report, suggest improvements in the following areas:

1. Need for systematic use of corruption risk assessments within public procurement.

2. Implementation of high transparency standards for the entire procurement cycle as well as during contract implementation.

3. Strengthening of internal and external control mechanisms for the entire procurement cycle as well as during contract implementation.

4. Ensuring a coherent overview of and raising awareness about the need for prevention and detection of corrupt practices at all levels of public procurement.

5. Strengthening sanctions for violations of procurement rules.

How do people living in Europe perceive the level of corruption?

Europeans believe that corruption remains a major problem in EU member States, and that the level of corruption has risen over the last three years, according to the Eurobarometer survey published by the Commission today1.

The key findings at European level are:

  1. The majority (76%) of Europeans think that corruption is widespread in their own country.

  2. Countries where respondents are most likely to think so are: Greece (99%), Italy (97%), Lithuania, Spain and the Czech Republic (all 95%), Croatia (94%), Romania (93%), Slovenia (91%), Portugal and Slovakia (both 90%). The Nordic countries are the only Member States where the majority think corruption is rare – Denmark (75%), Finland (64%) and Sweden (54%).

  3. More than half of Europeans (56%) think the level of corruption in their country has increased over the past three years (a surge compared to a previous study in 2011, when 47% perceived corruption to have risen over the same period of time).

  4. Spain (77%), Slovenia, the Czech Republic (both 76%), Italy (74%) and Portugal (72%) are amongst countries where respondents are most likely to think corruption has increased.

  5. 23% of Europeans think that their government’s efforts are effective in tackling corruption; 26% that there are enough successful prosecutions in their country to deter people from corrupt practices.

  6. 81% of Europeans think that too-close links between business and politics in their country lead to corruption; 69% that favouritism and corruption hinder business competition; 67% that corruption is part of the business culture in their country; and more than half (56%) that the only way to succeed in business in their country is through political connections.

  7. Around one in twelve Europeans (8%) say they have experienced or witnessed a case of corruption in the past 12 months. Yet only 12% of those who have encountered corruption say that they reported it.

  8. Respondents are most likely to say they have experienced or witnessed corruption in Lithuania (25%), Slovakia (21%) and Poland (16%) and least likely to do so in Finland and Denmark (3% in each), Malta and the UK (4% in each).

How do European business perceive the level of corruption?

A specific Eurobarometer survey was also carried out2 to understand the level of corruption perceived by businesses in the following six sectors: energy, mining, oil and gas, chemicals; healthcare and pharmaceuticals; engineering and electronics, motor vehicles; construction and building; telecommunications and information technologies; financial services, banking and investment. Key findings are as follows:

  1. 75% of companies say that corruption is widespread in their country.

Companies in Greece (99%), Spain and Italy (97%) are most likely to say this, but at least nine out of ten companies in the Czech Republic, Slovenia (both 94%), Slovakia (92%), Hungary, Romania (both 91%), Portugal and Croatia (both 90%) say the same.

Construction companies are the most likely to consider that corruption is widespread (79%) and telecoms/IT companies the least likely (62%).

  1. 43% of European companies see corruption as a problem when doing business.

It is most likely to be considered a problem when doing business by companies in the Czech Republic (71%), Portugal (68%), Greece and Slovakia (both 66%).

  1. Almost half (47%) of companies agree that the only way to succeed in business in their country is to have political connections.

  2. Favouring friends and family in business (43%) or public institutions (43%) are considered the most widespread corrupt practices, followed by tax fraud and non-payment of VAT (42%).

  3. 32% of companies that have participated in public tenders/public procurement say corruption prevented them winning a contract, and this view is most widely held among construction (35%) and engineering sector companies (33%).

At least half of companies in Bulgaria (58%), Slovakia (57%), Cyprus (55%) and the Czech Republic (51%) say this.

What will happen next?

The Report aims to launch a wide debate about anti-corruption measures with active participation of the Member States, the European Parliament, national parliaments, the private sector and civil society, notably on the points that it has identified for further attention.

In a spirit of partnership, the Commission intends to work with Member State to take forward the suggestions it makes in the Report, both at the political and expert levels.

The Commission will put in place a mutual experience-sharing programme for Member States, local NGOs and other stakeholders to identify best practices and overcome shortcomings in anti-corruption policies, raise awareness or provide training.

The next EU Anti-Corruption Report will be issued two years from now.

Useful Links

Press release: IP/14/86

EU Anti-Corruption report including country chapters, Eurobarometer surveys, factsheets and questions and answers: http://ec.europa.eu/anti-corruption-report

Cecilia Malmström's website

Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter

DG Home Affairs website

Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter

1 :

The survey was carried out between 23 February and 10 March 2013 in the then 27 Member States of the EU and in Croatia

2 :

between the 18th of February and the 8th of March 2013 in the then 27 EU Member States and Croatia


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