The European Union economy is reportedly losing at least $160 billion a year to corruption — which is especially concerning when you consider that’s pretty much equal to the EU’s entire annual operating budget.
For the first time, the European Commission — which is the bloc’s executive body — looked at levels of corruption in all of its 28 member states. (Via EurActiv)
Three-quarters of those surveyed said corruption was widespread in their countries and more than half said it’s a growing problem. Four out of 10 companies said corruption was an obstacle to doing business. (Via European Commission)
The report noted too often laws regulating conflicts of interest are not enforced, especially when it comes to political party financing and awarding bids for public contracts.
“The report shows clearly that the level of corruption varies from member state to member state, but it also shows that it affects all member states. There are no corruption free zones in Europe.” (Via BBC)
The report did find corruption was rare in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland and Sweden. While Greece was the worst offender, the EU’s two poorest nations, Romania and Bulgaria, also performed poorly. (Via Google Maps)
Allegations of corruption among those nations is hardly new. The report comes not long after Romania’s former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was sent to jail for a bribery conviction. (Via Euronews)
Writing in a Swedish newspaper, the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner called the findings of the report "breathtaking." "It is only if all EU governments take the issue very seriously that we can get rid of the tumor on the body politic posed by corruption." (Via Göteborgs-Posten)
The EU does have an anti-fraud agency but its small budget, observers say, keeps it from being very effective.