The headquarters of the European Commission, Brussels. Corruption? Not us...
The long-delayed report on corruption in the EU from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs has at last been published. It details what it calls the “breath-taking” scale of corruption and how “the political commitment to really root out corruption seems to be missing” across all 28 countries in the EU. An estimated €120 billion (around £100 billion), almost the equivalent of the European Commission’s entire budget, is lost by corrupt practices.
Corruption has been identified in every nation within the EU. But the report has dropped its planned intention to report on corruption in the institutions of the EU itself. Meanwhile, the report has been criticised by some for understating the levels of corruption, while other countries are scathing about what they regard as intervention in their internal affairs.
The EU police agency, Europol, estimates that there are at least 3,000 organised crime networks behind the corruption. Though Britain comes out well in the report on corruption – fewer than 1 per cent of those surveyed expect to pay a bribe – 64 per cent believe corruption is widespread in the country, with 16 per cent believing corruption affects their daily lives.
The report highlights the “high ethical standards of public service” in Britain – but doesn’t mention that these standards are continually undermined by privatisation and outsourcing, both key economic strategies of the EU. So the causes of corruption are not tackled – and they are built into the EU’s political and economic structure. ■