Level of Corruption 'breathtaking' in the European Union

Western media would have us believe that corruption only exists in the third world. But, think again. A study of corruption commissioned by the European Union (EU) found corruption is endemic in all 28 EU member states.

In reporting the results of the study, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the extent of corruption in Europe is "breathtaking" and the true cost of corruption was "probably much higher" than 120bn annually, and that corruption was eroding trust in democracy and draining resources from the legal economy.

Three-quarters of Europeans surveyed for the Commission study said that corruption was widespread, and more than half said the level had increased. In some countries there was a relatively high number of people reporting personal experience of bribery.
In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, between 6% and 29% of respondents said they had been asked for a bribe, or had been expected to pay one, in the past 12 months. There were also high levels of bribery in Poland (15%), Slovakia (14%) and Hungary (13%), where the most prevalent instances were in healthcare.

Four out of 10 of the businesses surveyed described corruption as an obstacle to doing business in Europe.

Some of the corruption stems from organised crime groups which have sophisticated networks across Europe. The EU police agency Europol says there are at least 3,000 of such crime groups.

Bulgaria, Romania and Italy are particular hotspots for organised crime gangs in the EU, but white-collar crimes like bribery and VAT (sales tax) fraud plague many EU countries.

Read more here.