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The Eu’s Corruption Fight Could Be Better

Cost of corruption

The European Union is predicted to lose up to 6.3 percent of its GDP each year due to corruption. While the bloc has instruments to combat it, they aren’t being utilized to their full capacity. Although the European Union is one of the least corrupt regions in the world, it is not without corruption. It is projected that it will cost the EU between €179 billion and €990 billion each year, or 6.3 percent of GDP, on average (high range). According to a Eurobarometer poll released in June 2020, 71% of Europeans say corruption is prevalent in their nation, with 42% believing it has increased in recent years. 

An unresolved problem Indeed, recent months have seen a flurry of corruption scandals in nations that aren’t generally listed among the EU’s worst performers, ranging from Austria (the Novomatic gambling corporation story) to Germany (the CDU/CSU politicians’ mask cases) to France (the CDU/CSU politicians’ mask cases) (where former president Sarkozy was convicted of corruption). Furthermore, the European Commission highlighted problems with the effectiveness of investigations, prosecutions, and judgments in corruption cases in six EU countries, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Malta, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, in its rule of law report published on September 30, 2020. 

In fact, the European Union lacks a uniform definition of “corruption,” despite the fact that the EU Treaty recognizes it as a “Euro-crime” because of its cross-border ramifications. Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Renew Europe MEP from the Netherlands, is a member of the Parliament’s group on democracy, rule of law, and fundamental rights monitoring, which is in charge of combating corruption. According to the MP, more must be done to involve the EU in this effort. Sophie in ‘t Veld, MEP, Renew Europe, Netherlands: The fight should be waged at the European level (in French) Sophie in ‘t Veld, MEP – Renew Europe, the Netherlands, Euranet Plus Central: The fight should be waged at the EU level (in French) “I believe that the battle against corruption and all forms of criminality should be carried out at the European level, not through intergovernmental agreements, but rather through the use of EU powers. It’s tough to explain to people why there are common European standards for cheese and jam ingredients but not for crime fighting. […] “Ah, but that’s subsidiarity, national sovereignty!” people usually argue. But, regrettably, corruption has no bounds, and consequently, police and judicial action should as well. As a result, I believe the Commission, in particular, is being overly cautious about this.” 

Lack of ambition on the part of the Commission MEP Freund agrees, stating that the Commission’s track record on this issue is “not particularly ambitious.” He highlights the Juncker Commission’s 2014 publication of the EU’s first anti-corruption report, including suggestions to member states, with the goal of making it a regular publication, every two years. This report, however, was only ever published once. The Commission now allocates a chapter to the rule of law in its rule of law report, the first edition of which was published on September 30. But, as MEP Freund points out, it examines more the mechanisms put in place to tackle corruption than real examples of misconduct. MEP Daniel Freund (Germany, Greens/EFA): The fight is a lengthy one (in French) Daniel Freund, MEP – Greens/EFA, Germany, Euranet Plus Central: The fight is a lengthy one (in French) “We expect that this issue will be addressed more seriously in the future, and that meaningful suggestions and pressure will be applied to member states if they do not implement these suggestions.

 

The struggle against corruption is never-ending. 

It isn’t something that you do once and then forget about. It’s a process in which you have to strengthen the laws and the institutions each time in order to make actual progress.” While the EU lacks a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy, European institutions, particularly the European Commission, have a number of measures at their disposal. European legislation has been expanded in recent years, particularly in the fields of anti-money laundering, public procurement corruption, asset recovery, and whistle-blower protection. Institutions, according to Nicholas Aiossa, deputy director of Transparency International’s EU office, do not always employ or completely utilize their tools. Transparency International’s Nicholas Aiossa: We need to do a better job of putting what we have in place (in English) Transparency International’s Nicholas Aiossa, Euranet Plus Central: Better implement what we have (in English) “I believe that the EU institutions, particularly the Commission, are underutilizing the existing powers to ensure that member states have the best anti-fraud measures in place. (…) We need to do a better job of putting them into practice. I believe the toolkit is appropriate, especially with the passage of the rule of law conditionality regulation, which explicitly links a member state’s rule of law flaws to the disbursement of EU funding. .