EU shamed as damning report exposes how corruption has flourished across bloc

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In their new report, Transparency International has listed Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania as the three most corrupt European countries, and argues the coronavirus has provided an excuse for anti-corruption efforts to stagnate. The report also states that Slovenia’s perception of corruption has reached a historical low, while even the countries that usually rank the best are showing signs of stagnation.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is the most widely used global corruption ranking system and takes information from at least three data sources drawn from 13 different corruption assessments.

Using this index, Transparency International have concluded that “two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite early warnings, Europe continues to use the crisis as an excuse for stagnating anti-corruption efforts and troubling decisions.

“Accountability and transparency measures are also being neglected or rolled back.”

MEP Daniel Freund said to Politico: “The EU’s fight against corruption is stalling.

“Important tools like the rule-of-law mechanism are not being used.

“The issues with countries like Hungary and Bulgaria have been known for years.

“Yet, the EU response did not go further than emphasizing dialogue.”

Slovenia’s results were particularly troubling.

Public procurement, as it was for many countries during the pandemic, has been a significant source of controversy for Slovenia.

Slovenia Times reported last year that the country failed to enforce rules on transparency and equal treatment of providers when it came to supplying PPE.

The Slovenian government also restricted funding to the Slovenian Press Agency over a dispute in their reporting, something they only reversed after a Supreme Court ruling.

Slovenian Commissioner Věra Jourová said to Politico: “Corruption is a cancer for democracy. It undermines people’s trust, it creates a perception that some are more equal than others.

“The Transparency International report shows that in many member states there is room for improvement, and the Commission stands ready to support them in their anti-corruption reforms.”

Mr Freund said: “The deterioration in Slovenia is worrisome but not surprising.”

Public procurement also raised concerns of corruption in Germany, the UK, Spain and Hungary.

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Governments across the EU simplified rules on public procurement such as allowing administrators to make purchases without the need for public tenders.

This means they could make purchases without needing to invite competing offers from other suppliers.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain were also listed as countries that fail to protect whistleblowers.

Last December, 22 out of the 27 EU countries missed the deadline for transposing the EU Commission’s directive to protect whistleblowers.

The corruption may also continue, as the EU will begin to disburse a record €800 billion to national governments in its pandemic recovery fund, which is to be spent by 2023.

Officials are already warning that the sheer size of the contracts and the speed at which they will have to be awarded are a major corruption risk.

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