The European Commission has called on member states to step up their fight against corruption.
Calling the extent of the problem ‘breathtaking’, the EU executive said that corruption costs Europe around €120 billion each year, the equivalent of the bloc’s yearly budget.
The Commission’s warning came on Monday as EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström presented the first EU Anti-Corruption Report. It suggests that measures to tackle illegal practices across the EU are ‘far from enough’.
‘The Report suggests solutions, based on a careful assessment of each Member State. They include: Better accountability and integrity standards; control mechanisms in public authorities; dealing with conflicts of interests by officials; how to address corruption at local level and in state-owned companies the effectiveness of courts and police, and protection mechanisms for whistleblowers; limiting risks of bribery in foreign countries, and making lobbying more transparent and -developing innovative e-tools to enhance transparency.’ said EU Home Affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
Malmstrom also warned that corruption is undermining citizen confidence in democracy and hurting the bloc’s economy.
According to the report, almost 80% of Europeans surveyed for the study think that corruption is widespread and more than half believe that the level of corruption in their country has recently increased.
‘As Europe is finding its way out of the economic crisis, we cannot afford to drag our feet. We hope that this will start a political process and will spur the political will and the necessary commitment at all levels to address corruption more effectively across Europe. The price of not acting is simply too high.’ Malmström added.
In the corporate world, four out of ten European companies surveyed considered corruption to be an obstacle for doing business in the EU.