The EU is the greatest performance in the world, according to the Corruption Perception Index 2019. The European Union continues to be the best-performing region in the world, although corruption still exists in some of its member states. This is a snapshot from Transparency International’s recently released 2019 Corruption Perception Index. The EU accounts for nine of the top twenty countries in this year’s CPI. Denmark is the highest-scoring country in the region, with 87 points, followed by Finland (86) and Sweden (85). Bulgaria (43), Romania (44) and Hungary (44), respectively, are at the bottom of the region (44). This year’s edition demonstrates that the huge efforts put forth over the last few years have paid dividends. Italy has improved by 11 points since 2012, to a score of 53, while Greece has improved by 12 points to a score of 48. Both countries saw tangible progress, including legislative development in Italy with the enactment of anti-corruption legislation and the establishment of anti-corruption agencies in both countries.
At the same time, countries in Central and Eastern Europe continue to struggle to successfully combat corruption and its perception. Transparency International has identified conflict of interest, exploitation of state resources for electoral purposes, insufficient transparency of political party and campaign money, and a lack of media independence as top priorities for both national governments and the EU. Transparency and institutional trust are critical components of successful public programs and investments. The 7th Cohesion Report stated that enhancing government quality and enacting structural changes are favourable to growth and employment creation.
Efficiency, integrity, and transparency of public institutions, as well as an active and ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders, including civil society, are all necessary ingredients for increasing the impact of cohesion policy in EU Member States and regions and delivering positive outcomes for citizens. The European Commission and Member States share responsibility for protecting EU taxpayers’ money and ensuring that investments deliver the expected benefits when it comes to Cohesion Policy monies. The EU Act, in particular, imposes a specific requirement on management authorities to implement risk-based, effective, and proportionate anti-fraud and anti-corruption measures. The Commission has a zero-tolerance policy for fraud and corruption and is continually working to defend the money of EU taxpayers. The goal is to ensure that every cent of the EU money is used in the citizens’ best interests. On the ground, the Commission monitors the execution of EU programs and funds.
The Commission pursues recovery proceedings if Member States or final beneficiaries misuse EU funds. It also assists national and regional agencies in improving their capability to assess risks and discover, report, and repair problems in a timely and effective manner in order to prevent fraud and corruption. The European Commission and Transparency International are now pushing the adoption of Integrity Pacts for EU-funded projects in order to increase transparency in public procurement for EU-funded projects. Integrity Pacts are legally binding agreements that appoint independent third parties to oversee the public procurement process in order to ensure that it is conducted fairly and transparently. As a natural means of ensuring openness and a sense of ownership, the Commission is also seeking to improve citizens’ participation and engagement in the policy cycle.
A high-level conference on “Engaging people for good governance in Cohesion Policy” will bring together civil society, think tanks, policymakers, and experts to re-energize the need for citizens to have a more active and direct role in delivering EU investment on the ground. Foreground The index employs a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being severely corrupt and 100 being very clean, to score 180 nations and territories based on their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and businesses. This year’s survey revealed that more than two-thirds of countries have a score of less than 50, with an average of 43. Unfortunately, this dismal result is nothing new when compared to former years.