European Commissioner: Extent of Corruption Across the EU is 'Breathtaking'


Credit: European Parliament / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

According to a report from the European Commission, corruption costs the European Union at least 120 billion euros (about $162 billion) a year.

European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, who presented the report, wrote about corruption in the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, saying that, "The extent of the problem is breathtaking."

The report mentions the finding of Eurobarometer surveys, which show that in Scandinavian European Union member states and Luxembourg residents believe that corruption is widespread in their country at rates less than the E.U. average (74 percent) and very few expect to pay bribes.

In some E.U. member states, such as Germany, France, and the Netherlands, more than half of residents claim that corruption is widespread, despite the fact that very few residents say they expect to pay bribes.

There are of course some countries in the E.U. where many residents do expect to pay bribes and do think that corruption is widespread:

As for countries lagging behind in the scores concerning both perceptions and actual experience of corruption, these include Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. In these countries, between 6 % and 29 % of respondents indicated that they were asked or expected to pay a bribe in the past 12 months, while 84 % up to 99 % think that corruption is widespread in their country. Croatia and the Czech Republic appear to make a somewhat more positive impression with slightly better scores than the rest of the countries from the same group. 

Map based on some of the Eurobarometer findings below:

Credit: BBC

Transparency International ranks countries for corruption. According to last year's rankings, the U.S. is more corrupt that Denmark, Sweden, the U.K., and Germany, but is less corrupt than Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, and France.

Sixty percent of the American respondents to the Transparency International survey believe that corruption has increased over the past two years by either "a lot" or "a little." Perhaps unsurprisingly, political parties are viewed as the most corruption institutions in the U.S., with 76 percent of respondents saying that political parties are either "corrupt" or "extremely corrupt."