(11 April 2013) – Corruption is costing EU countries €323 billion annually, says a new report published by the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and the Bertelsmann Foundation. This defies Europe’s image as a global front-runner in the fight against graft.
The bottom-scoring countries in the report are Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Latvia, Hungary and Greece. The study correlates government corruption and low levels of tax collection, as well as budget deficiencies, all of which could help explain the current economic climate in Greece and Italy.
The German study questions long-held beliefs about the positive impact on corruption levels obtained through EU membership. Spain, Greece and Italy show a clear regression in the corruption index, despite being long-standing EU members.
Over 60% of financial errors go undetected by EU member states’ control management systems, according to German MEP Jens Geier (Socialists and Democrats), who sits on the Parliament’s budget committee. “The Commission is increasingly suspending funds for member states based on corruption levels, it’s just not being talked about in public. The problem is that the first frontline of anti-corruption, that of members states, is really lacking,” he said.
Under EU law, the European Commission and European Parliament cannot interfere on how regions and member states spend their funding, although they can be held accountable for potential mismanagement. (With EurActiv)