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EU Watchdog Reports Complacency in Combating Corruption

Ranking top of the pack on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index may give a country bragging rights, but complacency breeds corruption, warns a European anticorruption watchdog.

The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anticorruption body, includes 48 European countries and the United States. According to its annual report, 2018 was a sluggish year for anticorruption action.

“No country is immune to corruption,” said GRECO President Marin Mrčela. “All countries, irrespective of their position in perception indexes, are required to take concrete measures to prevent and counter corruption. Relying on perceptions and underestimating the strength of preventive measures leaves the door open to behaviors which may very quickly turn into corruption.”

GRECO focused its latest round of evaluations on action taken by member states against corruption in 2018, especially regarding transparency for government agencies, officials, and members of the judiciary. Only 34 percent of GRECO’s recommendations were fully implemented by the end of 2018, down from more than 40 percent in 2017.

As a result of the slow movement on its recommendations, 14 GRECO member states were subject to noncompliance procedures regarding preventing corruption among parliamentarians, judges, and prosecutors.

GRECO identified a number of gaps in member states for the prevention of corruption in central government and law enforcement, including the need for codes of conduct for ministers and other top executive functions, lobbying, managing conflicts of interest, asset declarations, immunities, and “revolving doors,” according to GRECO’s annual report.