Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

European and Central Asian countries are not doing enough to tackle corruption

In a newly published report that was supported by the EU-funded ANTICORRP project, Transparency International has highlighted how citizens in Europe and Central Asia view corruption as one of the biggest problems facing their country.
European and Central Asian countries are not doing enough to tackle corruption
The report, entitled ‘People and Corruption: Europe and Central Asia 2016’ begins by highlighting how corruption is a central reason as to why support for populist and nationalist movements has grown in Europe since the beginning of the financial crisis. The failure of governments to properly address corruption and their complicity in corrupt or clientelist schemes feeds the belief amongst citizens that traditional democratic institutions – governments, political parties etc. – are failing to deliver on promises of prosperity and equal opportunity for all and thus can no longer be trusted.

Alarming findings

For the report, part of a regional series from Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer and the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind, the NGO spoke nearly 60 000 people across 42 countries in Europe and Central Asia via face-to-face and telephone surveys about the current state of public sector graft. Their findings show that over a quarter of citizens see politicians, government officials and business executives as highly corrupt, and nearly three in five citizens think that wealthy individuals have too much influence over government decisions. One in three citizens in the region think that corruption is one of the biggest problems facing their country, with the figure rising to two in three in Moldova, Spain and Kosovo.

The survey also showed that people are highly dissatisfied with the way governments are tackling the corruption risk in Europe and Central Asia. Over half (53 %) said that their government is doing badly at fighting corruption, whilst less than a quarter (23 %) say they are doing well. The governments of Ukraine (82 %), Moldova (84 %), Bosnia and Herzegovina (82 %) and Spain (80 %) were judged worst by their citizens. Armenia, Lithuania, Russia and Serbia were also found to have severe corruption problems.

Bribery was also found to be too common an experience for many households in the region and the report writes that on average, one in six households paid a bribe for access to public services. Although few households paid bribes when coming into contact with public services in EU Member States, rates were significantly higher the further east one travels; the highest rates were in Tajikistan (50 %), Moldova (42 %), Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine (38 % for each). In the EU, Romania had the highest rate of reported bribery at 29 %, followed by Lithuania with 24 %.

More positively, ‘standing up’ and ‘speaking out’ are seen as the best ways to fight corruption. Reporting corruption or refusing to pay bribes is seen as the most effective action citizens can take, with reporting corruption being seen as particularly effective in the EU+ (which includes Greenland and Switzerland) at 24 %. Still 27 % of citizens in Europe and Central Asia feel resigned to the fact that they cannot effectively do anything to fight corruption and fear of the consequences keeps many (30 % of respondents) from actively reporting corruption.

Comprehensive recommendations to fight corruption

Following these results, the report recommends that countries and the EU institutions need transparent rules on lobbying and a public lobbying register so that policy decisions can be better scrutinised. Information on lobbying activities must be published and easily available. It also argues that countries, particularly EU accession countries and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) must reduce executive influence over the judiciary and prosecutorial services. This would be achieved through transparent and objective systems for the appointment, transferral and dismissal of judges and prosecutors.

Finally, the report argues that more citizens should be encouraged to report corruption through the adoption and enforcement of legislation to protect whistleblowers based on international standards. Government and the private sector need to support whistleblowers and reporters of corruption and ensure appropriate follow-up to their disclosures.

Transparency International is a consortium member of the ANTICORRP (Anticorruption Policies Revisited. Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption) project which is investigating the factors that promote or hinder the development of effective anticorruption policies and impartial government institutions. The project has received nearly EUR 8 million in EU funding and is due to end in February 2017.

For more information, please see:
project website

Source: Based on a press release from Transparency International

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top