EU Corruption Report: Brussels bureaucrats kill chapter on corruption in EU Institutions

The EU corruption report is out today and is getting a lot of media attention. It has no big surprises and estimates the cost of corruption directly in the member states to be about 120 billion € which is about the same size as the EU budget and is about 1% of the total EU GDP at about 12 trillion €.

But – in a major victory for the faceless bureaucrats of Brussels – the report does not consider corruption within EU Institutions as it was supposed to. My perception is that the corruption level within the EU Institutions is as bad as in the worst member state. In Brussels where the bureaucrats are drawn from member countries, the practices they employ are imported from what they are used to in their home countries. And Brussels – in my little experience and in my opinion – is perfectly suited to levelling-down and to the spreading of the worst practices available.

EU Observer: The European Commission has decided not to include a chapter on EU institutions in a report on corruption in member states …. The original plan, announced in 2011, was to assess corruption across the member states and within the EU institutions. EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is set to release the first bi-annual report on Monday (3 February), around six months later than originally planned.

Malmstrom’s spokesperson Michael Cercone told this website in an email that the commission had considered assessing the anti-corruption efforts of the EU’s own institutions but “realised that this is something we will have to come back to in a future EU anti-corruption report – to be sure that the evaluation would be satisfactory and objective.”

And when this part of the report does come out – if it is ever completed – it will ensure that the analysis is set so far in the past that no current bureaucrats/politicians will be implicated.

But the size of the corruption suggests that while petty corruption is much lower than in some developing countries, the extent of large sophisticated contract scams is not insignificant. It takes a few thousands of petty corruption events to come up to the level of a single large contract scam. The Report points out that:

The individual country analyses revealed a wide variety of corruption-related problems, as well as of corruption control mechanisms, some of which have proved effective and others have failed to produce results. Nevertheless, some common features can be noted either across the EU or within clusters of Member States. The country analyses show that public procurement is particularly prone to corruption in the Member States, …..

Of course the EU countries exhibit a wide variety of behaviour and some member states view the payment of “fees” or the exchange of “favours” to get an advantage as a normal activity. As the report states “However, the long-standing absence of comprehensive anti-corruption strategies in some Member States which are facing systemic corruption problems turned out to be an issue of concern, ..”.  There is a political dimension as well Provoked by the crisis, social protests have targeted not only economic and social policies, but also the integrity and accountability of political elites. High-profile scandals associated with corruption, misuse of public funds or unethical behaviour by politicians have contributed to public discontent and mistrust of the political system. Integrity in politics is a serious issue for many Member States….”.

Oh well! Business will continue as usual in Brussels.

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