EU surprise at widespread corruption in construction, energy, transport, defence and healthcare sectors

cecilia malmstrom euThe BBC reports that, after some months’ delay following its completion, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has presented a full report on the “breathtaking” extent of corruption in Europe, estimated to cost the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually.

It was, however less ‘full’ than it could have been as only member states were scrutinised; the planned inclusion of a chapter assessing corruption within EU institutions was dropped.

The Commission highlighted several causes for concern, including:

  • public procurement of goods and services is vulnerable to corruption, so better controls and integrity standards are needed; “In some other cases, the allegations concerned too close links between businesses and politicians at central or local level that encouraged alleged corrupt practices linked to the award of public contracts”;
  • many shortcomings remain in financing of political parties – often codes of conduct are not tough enough – larger parties funded by big business;
  • and often the existing rules on conflicts of interest are inadequately enforced – “favouritism and conflicts of interest” – including what we call the two-way revolving door between government and corporations?

Construction, energy, transport, defence and healthcare sectors are most vulnerable to corruption in public procurement:

“. . . in some cases the allegations concerned too close links between businesses and politicians at central or local level that encouraged alleged corrupt practices linked to the award of public contracts” (page 27).

The report’s focus on low rather than high-level bribery and illegal rather than legal party funding errs in placing Britain in a good light

eu anticorruption report coverBut readers of this site will realise that the EU reports emphasis on illegal party funding completely overlooks the complex web of interest and obligation with which legal corporate party funding binds the government of the day in this country.

As the report said: “Corruption varies in nature and extent from one country to another . . . In the case of the UK, only 5 persons out of 1115 were expected to pay a bribe . . . nevertheless, the perception data show that 64% of UK respondents think corruption is widespread in the country“. The report does not seem to realise that most of these people will be referring to high-level political corruption – but its general reflections are on target:

“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.

“Corruption . . .  affects all EU Member States. It impinges on good governance, sound management of public money, and competitive markets. In extreme cases, it undermines the trust of citizens in democratic institutions and processes” (Introduction page 2).


Posted on February 9, 2014, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying, Parliamentary failure, Party funding, Planning, Revolving door, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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