News / Economy

Corruption Costs European Economy 120 Billion Euros a Year

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 3, 2014.
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 3, 2014.
Lisa Bryant
Corruption costs European Union countries more than $160 billion a year, undermining their efforts to emerge from its economic crisis.

The EU recently conducted its first survey on corruption and its impact on businesses and citizens in the 28-member bloc.

More than three quarters of Europeans believe corruption is widespread in their country - and it seems their fears might be justified. In its first report on corruption across the European Union, the bloc's executive arm finds corruption touches many parts of daily life here, from procuring government contracts to political party financing.

Presenting the main findings at a news conference in Brussels, European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said corruption's yearly price tag was probably more than 120 billion euros - or about $161 billion. She says that's hurting the bloc's recovery from its economic crisis.

"The report shows clearly that the level of corruption varies from member state to member state, but it affects all member states," she said. "There are no corruption-free states."

The report is based on corruption perceptions and experiences on the part of EU citizens and companies. While it doesn't rank the block's 28 members, it does find that perceptions of widespread corruption are highest in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.

At least one in 12 European say they've experienced or witnessed corruption over the past 12 months. And 40 percent of EU companies consider corruption a problem in doing business.

While the report suggests how countries can crack down on corruption - and offers examples of good practices - it does not call for sanctions or legal reforms. But Malmstroem believes it will generate discussion and action among member states.

"Of course, it takes more than a report to eradicate corruption," she said. "But as we are finding our way out of the economic crisis, this can be a tool. We cannot afford to drag our feet…the price for not acting is simply too high."

Corruption watchdog Transparency International calls the commission's report an "important first step," but EU office head Carl Dolan says it could have gone further.

"It's interesting that there isn't a chapter here on corruption in the EU institutions…looking at things like revolving doors, lobbying, public procurement - all of which are big things for the EU institutions themselves," he said.

Transparency International will be publishing its own report on corruption within those EU institutions in April.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9109
JPY
USD
121.50
GBP
USD
0.6467
CAD
USD
1.2293
INR
USD
63.559

Rates may not be current.