Corruption creeping up in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania: TI

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The annual report of Transparency International revealed the poor performance of many EU member states in fighting corruption, with the poorest results recorded in Bulgaria and Romania, followed by crisis-hit countries Greece and Italy. Tellingly, some EU candidate countries appear to be doing better than current EU members.

Transparency International (TI) published its regular 'Corruption Perception Index'(CPI) for 2011, which includes some findings about Europe and its battle against corruption.

The anti-bribery watchdog ranked 183 countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and graded them on a scale from zero to ten, with zero being the most corrupt.

?Bulgaria most corrupt EU country

Bulgaria scored the lowest among EU countries this year and was marked 3.3 out of ten, dropping to 86th place globally. Sofia now outranks Greece, which was perceived as the most corrupt EU country in 2010. According to TI's data, Bulgaria's results have been the worst over the last 12 years.

However, Italy and Greece are not in a much better position. Italy is ranked 69th, next to Ghana and Macedonia, and was given a score of 3.9, clearly below average. Greece's score is lower than last year, dropping from 3.5 to 3.4, and falling from 78th to 80th position in the ranking of most corrupt countries globally.

The report comes a few days after the head of Greece's new independent statistics agency faced an official criminal investigation for allegedly inflating the scale of the country’s fiscal crisis.

TI believes that one of the reasons that these two countries were so severely hit by the crisis was the high corruption rate that they have been battling with for years. “Eurozone countries suffering debt crises, partly because of public authorities’ failure to tackle the bribery and tax evasion that are key drivers of the debt crisis, are among the lowest scoring EU countries,” TI said.

Romania's scores are also lower than the previous year, down from 3.7 to 3.6, leading to a drop from 69th to 75th position,  ranking it next to China.

Higher scores for candidate countries

The results seem to be positive regarding some EU candidate countries, which managed to rank higher than many EU member states. Iceland scored 8.3 out of ten, affording it the 13th position in the world.

Turkey's performance is also relatively good, although slightly worse than last year (4.2, down from 4.4). However, it still did better than EU-member Slovakia and ranked higher than Croatia, which is set to join the EU soon.

Croatia, whose EU accession received backing from the European Parliament yesterday (1 December), was marked 4 out of 10 and ranked 66th on the global scale. Montenegro, another EU hopeful, had the exact same scores.

Germany and France fared well in the ranking, receiving a score of 8 and 7 respectively.

Denmark, which takes over the six-month rotating EU Presidency in January, had impressive results, ranking 2nd in the global index, just below New Zealand, with a mark of 9.4.

The EU has made the fight against corruption one of its highest political priorities, in both its internal affairs and its relations with third countries.

The EU systematically includes corruption-related issues on the agenda of candidate countries and insists that future member states set up and implement national anti-corruption policies.

The Commission has been monitoring corruption in the future EU member states since the beginning of the enlargement process in order to allay fears of European citizens about ethics of governance in different countries.

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