National Corruption Surveys

Continuing our Briefing on the EU's first Anti-Corruption Report, the second part of our analysis provides summaries of the 28 national reports that were presented by the Commission to accompany its general report.

The national reports summarise the Commission overall conclusion of anti-corruption for the Member State concerned and its country-specific recommendations. Member States are presented in alphabetical order.

Austria

Overview

Overall, the Commission finds that Austria's has increased its efforts in prevention and prosecution of corruption, however further improvements could be made.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends that Austria trains specialised prosecutors for corruptions cases and makes access to bank account information easier in cases of suspicion of corruption, to make prosecution of bribery more effective. A monitoring mechanism for checking declarations of assets, for elected and appointed senior officials, is also suggested.

Belgium

Overview

The Commission finds that Belgium has the necessary anti-corruption laws, but that there are risks corruption in Belgium is not addressed in a uniform way due to varying competences at regional and federal level.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends that Belgium implement ethical for all appointed and elected officials at federal, regional and local levels. Belgium also provides more resources for the justice system and law enforcement agencies to make sure that corruption cases are prosecuted before their time limits run out. Finally, the Commission suggests anti-corruption legislation on party funding is extended to all parties including those that do not receive federal subsidies.

Bulgaria

Overview

The Commission finds that corruption is widespread despite legal reforms and new structures.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends that Bulgaria does more to protect anti-corruption institutions from political influence and that the management is appointed in a transparent, merit-based procedure. To improve the independence of judge’s court cases should be randomly assigned in a nationwide system. The Commission also suggests that Members of the National Assembly adopt a code of ethics and that dissuasive sanctions for corruption in public procurement are put in place and enforced at national and local level.

Croatia

Overview

The Commission concludes that Croatia has made considerable efforts to improve its anti-corruption laws. However, there appears to be more emphasis on repression than prevention.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends that Croatia develops codes of conduct for elected officials at central and local levels and carries out proper checks of asset declarations and conflicts of interests. The Commission also recommends that an effective mechanism for the prevention of corruption in state-owned and state-controlled companies is also put in place. Finally, the Commission suggests Croatia implements a strategy for preventing corruption in public procurement, especially in the healthcare sector, that provides protection for whistleblowers who report corruption.

Cyprus

Overview

According to the Commission, Cyprus has demonstrated commitment to prevent corruption by amending legislation and establishing a coordinating body, however, the small number of prosecuted cases indicates a need to strengthen the enforcement system.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends Cyprus strengthens its disciplinary regime for public servants and streamlines procedures to ensure effective investigations of corruption within the police. Codes of conduct for elected and appointed officials should also be introduced, to increase transparency over asset declarations. The Commission also suggests that Cyprus limits state-owned companies to sponsor political events, regulates donations to election candidates, and obliges parties to publish financial information online. Finally Cyprus should develop uniform and effective measures to prevent and detect corruption in public procurement at national and local level.

Czech Republic

Overview

Over the last decade, a strategic framework for fighting corruption has been evolving in the Czech Republic. Persistent problems relate to public procurement practices and the misuse of public funds. Attempts to put in place legislation covering conflicts of interest in the civil service have so far been unsuccessful.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that legislation is necessary to prevent conflict of interests in the civil service, transparent recruitment and guarantees against arbitrary dismissal and political interference. The Commission also recommends electoral campaign expenditure and donations are made public in annual reports. Finally, resources should be increased to improve transparency regarding public procurement and strengthen the independence of prosecutors to deal with handle corruption cases.

Denmark

Overview

Denmark is a top EU performer in terms of transparency, integrity and control of corruption, although there is some room for improvement with regards to the financing of political parties and prosecuting corporations on grounds of bribery in foreign countries.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests improving transparency and supervisory mechanisms of the financing of political parties and individual candidates. The Commission also recommends that more efforts are made to fight foreign bribery, such as by introducing higher of fines for corporations.

Estonia

Overview

The Commission considers corruption levels in Estonia can be considered to be low by comparison to international levels. Additional efforts could be made to improve transparency in the financing of political parties and in public procurement, as well as accountability of elected and appointed officials.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests Estonia monitors donations to political parties more effectively applying dissuasive sanctions. Additional efforts to improve transparency and oversight of public procurement could also be made through developing guidelines and providing adequate training at local level. The Commission also recommends Estonia adopts a code of conduct for Members of Parliament, accompanied by an efficient mechanism of supervision and sanctions and analysis into political appointments in administrations and state-owned companies including at local level.

Finland

Overview

The Commission considers Finland to be a top performer in the EU as regards anti-corruption despite a few high-level corruption cases involving informal relationships and lobbying by businesses providing campaign financing to politicians.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that Finland obliges municipalities and regions to ensure transparency in public contracts made with private entrepreneurs. The Commission also suggests that the anti-corruption unit of the National Bureau of Investigations should more effectively support investigations of corruption-related crimes, and coordinate anti-corruption procedures between government agencies.

France

Overview

Despite recent legislative measures concerning conflicts of interest and an agenda to address what the Government described as a 'crisis of trust', allegations of corruption and nepotism, extending to high-ranking politicians and public officials have been made. The Commission considers that risks in the public procurement sector and in international business transactions have not been addressed and that party funding remains an area for improvement.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends that France should assess corruption risks at local level, and set priorities for anti-corruption measures related to public procurement. The Commission also suggests that France improves legislation on foreign bribery; addresses the recommendations on party funding raised by the Council of Europe, and increases the operational independence of prosecutors.

Germany

Overview

The Commission notes that Germany is in the top rank internationally in terms of fighting corruption. German authorities and private companies have a good reputation for their recent efforts to prevent and combat foreign bribery and large corporations have provided several examples of their readiness to address problems. However, the lack of sanctions for corruption of elected officials and the absence of a ‘revolving door’ policy, especially in the public sector have not been addressed.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests Germany would benefit from the introduction of strict penalties for corruption of elected officials and develop a policy to deal with the 'revolving door' phenomenon. Increasing awareness of the risks of foreign bribery amongst small and medium sized enterprises is also recommended, and Germany could also do more to address concerns over the financing of election campaigns.

Greece

Overview

Despite some positive steps, including the development of sectoral strategies and the appointment of a national anti-corruption coordinator, the Commission concludes that corruption poses considerable challenges in Greece. In part this is due to the crisis affecting Greece, however the Commission considers that context of the state reform, particular attention should be given to the anti-corruption work.

The Commission considers the main issue to be that the anti-corruption framework remains complex and has not yet yielded sustainable results. Clientelism and favouritism in public administration require a more vigorous response and issues remain regarding conflicts of interest and asset disclosure and public procurement. The determination of the political leadership to do away with corruption can be measured only through the implementation and impact of policies that are currently being established.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests for the anti-corruption coordinator is a priority along with ensuring effective implementation of sector-specific strategies such as healthcare and tax administration. Comprehensive ethical codes for elected officials at central and local levels should be developed along with appropriate penalties for violations. Increasing supervision of party funding and declarations of interests by politicians, and reexamining the issue of immunity, are also considered beneficial. The Commission also considers public procurement remains a major risk area and requires oversight.

Hungary

Overview

Although steps have been taken to address integrity and to promote transparency within public administration, in Hungary, the Commission notes that clientelism, favouritism and nepotism in public administration remain. Strong informal relations between businesses and political actors at local level, make local governments more vulnerable to corrupt practices. Other issues include the transparency of financing of political parties and effectiveness of control mechanisms, especially for public procurement. Finally the Commission finds that corruption appears to be a problem in the healthcare sector where paying for preferential treatment are fairly common.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission considers that more efforts should be made to control the financing of political parties, public procurement procedures and conflicts of interest among public official. The Commission suggests strengthening accountability standards for elected and appointed officials and dealing with risks concerning favouritism in public administration. In addition the Commission recommends that gratitude payments in the healthcare sector are progressively eliminated.

Ireland

Overview

The Commission notes that the Irish Government has undertaken comprehensive reforms at both legislative and policy levels to address corruption and related issues of transparency, accountability and integrity. Furthermore considerable steps have been taken to improve the framework for the supervision and transparency of political party funding. The Commission recommends sanctioning of corrupt behaviour is made stricter and large-scale corruption cases are dealt with in a timelier manner. The Commission highlights corruption-related risks associated with close ties between politicians and industry as an on-going concern. The Commission therefore suggests that more determined action could be taken to address the risk of conflicts of interest effectively, notably at local level and in vulnerable sectors such as urban development.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission considers that more work could be done to improve the prosecutions and punishing corruption cases in a timely manner as well as addressing the few remaining concerns around the funding of political parties, election and referendum campaigns and corruption risks related to conflicts of interest at local level, as well as in the area of urban planning.

Italy

Overview

Despite considerable efforts by the Court of Audit, law enforcement bodies, prosecution services and the judiciary, and a new anti-corruption law in 2012, the Commission notes that corruption remains a serious challenge in Italy. Political corruption cases involving top regional elected officials have revealed illegal financing of electoral campaigns and political parties and links with mafia groups. Enforcement of dissuasive sanctions is limited and the restrictive regime of the statute of limitations is still in place. The Commission also considers the legal framework for conflicts of interest and financing of political parties are still unsatisfactory. Furthermore the Commission identifies public procurement and the private sector to be vulnerable to corruption. Further efforts need to be made to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the anti-corruption legal framework.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that Italy strengthens the integrity regime for elected officials through ethical codes, including accountability tools. The Commission also considers that Italy should also reinforce the legal and institutional framework on party funding and that the statute of limitation regime is addressed without delay. The Commission also suggests Italy reinforces the powers and capacity of the National Anti-Corruption Agency to give it a stronger coordination role, enhancing the transparency around public procurement and take further steps to address shortcomings regarding corruption in the private sector. Finally the Commission considers that more efforts are required with regard to conflicts of interest and asset disclosure of public officials, as well as control mechanisms around local and regional public spending.

Latvia

Overview

The Commission finds that Latvia has made progress in preventing and addressing corruption, with a searchable online database of political donations, and a track record of KNAB investigations. Furthermore anti-corruption laws are gradually being developed and refined; however implementation in practice remains uneven. Further efforts to address corruption risks in public procurement and improve the accountability of elected officials as well as the transparency of state-owned companies are necessary.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests building on the achievements of the Bureau for combating and preventing corruption (KNAB) by strengthening its independence and protecting it from potential political interference. The Commission recommends promoting e-procurement techniques and improving greater competition for public contracts to help address risks in public procurement. Finally the Commission suggests that Latvia can improve transparency of state-owned companies, and should apply the Parliament's Code of Ethics more rigorously.

Lithuania

Overview

While Lithuania is committed to preventing and combatting corruption, including through an extensive legal framework, the Commission considers the challenge is to apply relevant provisions in practice and promote understanding of their rationale, to address both petty and high-level corruption. Further reinforcing the independence and effectiveness of anti-corruption institutions would help address challenges in public procurement, the financing of political parties, and healthcare.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that Lithuania should prioritise the prosecution of larger cases and develop preventative measures to detect corruption in procurement, focusing on the local level and the healthcare sector. The Commission also suggests that Lithuania develops a strategy against informal payments in healthcare, and improves the control of declarations of conflicts of interest made by elected and appointed officials. Finally the Commission recommends additional measures are taken in relation to the transparency of political party financing.

Luxembourg

Overview

Although Luxembourg is perceived to be a country where petty corruption is not a problem and effective systems are in place to deter corruption in public services, the Commission finds that the small and tight-knit nature of the business community, and the lack of rules on lobbying as well as access to information, raises the risk of conflicts of interest.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that Luxembourg clarifies accounting obligations particularly for political parties, and introduces a mechanism to oversee political campaign accounts. The Commission also recommends that Luxembourg improves its rules on conflicts of interests, and adopts legislation on access to public information. Finally the Commission suggests more resources are invested to combat financial and economic crime.

Malta

Overview

The Commission points out that Malta prioritised the prevention of corruption, leading to reforms aiming for greater transparency, however, the Commission notes that the financing of political parties remains largely unregulated. The Commission suggests that anti-corruption institutions improve their coordination and ensure effective collection of evidence. Additionally the Commission considers that efforts are also necessary to improve the transparency of judicial appointments and of decision-making in environmental planning.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests Malta introduces rules on disclosure and caps on political donations, a ban on anonymous donations beyond a reasonable threshold, the publication of independently audited party accounts, and monitoring by the Electoral Commission of compliance with the transparency requirements. The Commission also recommends clear standard procedures and rules on the distribution of cases of alleged corruption among the competent anti-corruption institutions are put in place. Furthermore coordination among these institutions to increase the collection of evidence could be improved. The Commission also recommends that if the Permanent Commission against Corruption (PCAC) is retained, its remit should be widened and empowered to appoint its own specialists. The Commission also considers that the ability of the judiciary to handle corruption cases should be strengthened by revising the appointment and dismissal procedures for judges to ensure transparent and merit-based selection and removal, and enforcing decisions of the Commission for the Administration of Justice that find a breach of the Code of Ethics for the Judiciary. Finally, reforms at the Malta Environmental Planning Authority (MEPA) to further build public confidence in its integrity and impartiality should be continued.

Netherlands

Overview

The Commission notes that strong public demand for transparency and accountability, both in the public and the private domain exists in the Netherlands and that the integrated approach to preventing and detecting corruption both at central and local level could serve as a model elsewhere in the EU. Furthermore the Commission considers there to be a strong collective understanding of the damaging effects of corruption, and continuous public pressure to maintain a high level of transparency and accountability. However, there is not enough evidence that foreign bribery is tackled adequately.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission considers the Netherlands should extend the rules on the assets and interests to elected officials and members of government and ensuring an effective and transparent verification system and develop a framework for post-employment conflicts of interest.

The Commission also suggests that foreign bribery should be prosecuted more proactively increasing capacity to investigate and prosecute such cases and by focusing efforts on prosecuting both natural and legal persons for corruption in international business transactions. The Commission also suggests that the Netherlands considers broadening the range of sanctions and raising the level of fines applicable to legal persons.

Poland

Overview

The Commission finds that progress has been made particularly in combatting petty corruption through better implementation of policies. However, a more strategic approach and closer coordination are called for to transform ad-hoc amendments and activities into real solutions. Further reforms are also needed to safeguard the independence and effectiveness of anti-corruption institutions, and the transparency of public procurement and healthcare.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission’s main recommendation is that Poland implements a coherent long-term strategy against corruption, streamlining the activities of relevant institutions and listing specific actions, their timeframe and resources for their implementation and those responsible. The Commission also considers that the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) could be safeguarded against politicisation of by a more transparent and impartial procedure for the appointment of its Head, training and monitoring to ensure that investigative methods comply with human rights standards. The CBA could also be made more efficient by prioritising its cases and seeking to coordinate better with police, prosecution and other special services. The Commission also considers anti-corruption measures need to be strengthened in a number of areas including public procurement, the supervision of state-owned companies, and the healthcare sector. In the healthcare sector the Commission suggests addressing corruption risks between the pharmaceutical industry and public healthcare staff should be a priority.

 Portugal

Overview

The Commission notes that the economic crisis has led to an increase in public vigilance towards corruption; however institutions in preventing and tackling corruption in Portugal are pressured for resources. Nonetheless, the Commission considers that particular attention should be given to anti-corruption work. Political commitment to address corruption has been demonstrated through initiatives such as the adoption of new legislation; however, there is no comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy in place. Effective prosecution and adjudication of high-level and complex corruption cases remains a challenge. Despite some efforts to properly supervise party funding, more steps could be taken to support integrity-related policies for elected officials. Urban planning and construction remain among the sectors most vulnerable to corruption.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that Portugal ensures that law enforcement, prosecution and judiciary are better equipped to effectively deal with complex corruption cases. The Commission also considers further preventive action against corrupt practices in party funding should be undertaken, and codes of conduct for elected officials be developed along with further efforts in regards to conflicts of interests and asset disclosure of officials at local levels. The Commission also recommends that transparency and control mechanisms for public procurement procedures are strengthened and that risk factors for corruption in local urban planning decisions are identified.

Romania

Overview

The Commission finds that corruption, both petty and political, remains a systemic problem in Romania. Although anti-corruption reforms were undertaken, these were unstable and reversible. Despite results in the prosecution of high-level corruption cases, and efforts by specialised law enforcement bodies, prosecutors, and judges, the political will to address corruption and promote high standards of integrity has been inconsistent over time. The Commission considers accountability and integrity of elected and appointed officials is still a concern and greater efforts are needed to address corruption effectively within the judiciary and healthcare systems, and in connection with public procurement. Furthermore, the Commission considers the prevention of corruption remains underdeveloped and inefficient.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission firstly considers that the stability, independence and continuation of anti-corruption institutions and the judiciary needs to be maintained, especially for court proceedings concerning high-level corruption cases and those involving elected and appointed officials. This could be accomplished with a coherent preventive and awareness-raising measures and an effective sanctioning regime.

The Commission also recommends adopting codes of conduct for elected officials and imposing dissuasive sanctions for corrupt practices, conflicts of interests, and ethical codes for political parties or establishing ethics pacts between parties to promote high integrity standards.

The Commission also suggests contracting authorities and public procurement supervisory institutions concentrate on prevention with particular focus on conflict of interest at local level. Systematic monitoring of public contracts and greater transparency are needed as is a system for the early detection of conflicts of interest in public procurement, clear rules on revolving door practices in public procurement and raising awareness of the risks of such practices. Strengthening anti-corruption safeguards for public procurement processes within state-owned companies is also suggested.

Finally the Commission considers a reduction in informal payments in the public healthcare system is necessary, possibly by improving pay and conditions for medical staff. The Ministry of Health is also highlighted as needed greater independence and supervision.

Slovakia

Overview

According to the Commission, Slovakia’s anti-corruption framework is limited by a perceived lack of independence of part of the judiciary, close relationships between the political and business elite and limited application of the legislation. Structural reforms to address conflicts of interest, focused efforts for prevention of corruption and good coordination in investigations should therefore be prioritised and both legislative reforms and practical disincentives for corruption are required in party funding, public procurement and conflicts of interest.

Commission Recommendation

Commission recommends that Slovakia strengthens the independence of the judiciary, in particular by specifying criteria for when presidents and vice-presidents of courts can be removed from office. The Commission is also suggests increasing the transparency of party funding at local and regional levels and having clear merit based approaches for the management of the police force. The Commission recommends strengthening control mechanisms on relevant authorities to prevent conflicts of interest with regards to combat the misuse of EU funds and checking independent ex-ante checks of public procurement procedures at central and local levels.

Slovenia

Overview

Despite Slovenia having a fairly well-developed legal and institutional anti-corruption regime, the Commission considers there to have been a decline in the political drive against corruption, amidst allegations of corruption and doubts about the integrity of high-level officials culminating in the fall of a government. The reinforcing of the Commission for Prevention of Corruption (KPK), and control and supervisory mechanisms at all layers of Slovenian public institutions should be put in place.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission suggests that Slovenia should apply dissuasive penalties to elected and appointed officials for when requirements to disclose assets and conflicts of interests are breached and take steps to strengthen accountability standards for elected officials. The Commission also recommends that Slovenia safeguards the operational independence and resources of anti-corruption bodies and prosecution services specialized in combating financial crime. Strengthening anti-corruption mechanisms concerning state-owned and state–controlled companies, as well as around public procurement and privatisation procedures could also be made. Finally more efforts could be made to ensure better supervision of party funding.

Spain

Overview

Although the Commission considers the anti-corruption legal framework to have been put in place and is enforced political corruption and deficient checks and balances, notably in public spending and control mechanisms at regional and local levels remain a problem.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends that Spain develops specific anti-corruption strategies for regional and local levels administrations along with comprehensive codes of conduct for elected officials with adequate mechanisms for accountability and supervision. The Commission also considers that that on-going reforms and implementation of the new rules on party funding should be pursued The Commission also suggests that irregularities in public procurement procedures at regional and local levels should be addressed through better supervision and independent assessment.

Sweden

Overview

The Commission finds Sweden to be among the least corrupt countries in the EU and has been ambitious in fighting corruption. There are corruption risks in municipalities and counties, as well as gaps in the Swedish legislation for prosecuting Swedish corporations for bribery in foreign countries.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission recommends municipalities and county councils should be required to secure transparency in public contracts with private entrepreneurs. The Commission also suggests that fines for corporations committing foreign bribery should be increased, and liability triggered even if the crime has been committed by intermediaries or third-party agents. The Commission suggests Sweden considers reviewing the provision of dual criminality, whereby an offence has to be a crime under the law of the country in which it has allegedly been committed. Finally the Commission suggests that Sweden improves the transparency of financing of political parties further, by considering a general ban on donations from donors whose identity is not known.

United Kingdom

Overview

The UK has significant progress in encouraging its companies to refrain from bribing officials abroad, through stringent legislation and detailed guidelines. The UK also promotes high ethical standards in public service. Further efforts should be made to address foreign bribery risks in vulnerable industries, and ensure that out-of-court settlements and the financing of political parties are fully transparent. The integrity of elected officials, police-media relations and corruption within financial institutions also merit additional attention.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission strongly suggests the UK addresses risks of foreign bribery and introduces guidelines for certain industries especially defence. The UK should also ensure transparency in out-of-court settlements in corruption cases. The Commission also suggests that accountability in the governance of banks should be further strengthened. The Commission also recommends that donations to political parties are capped, that limits are placed on electoral campaign spending and that there is proactive monitoring and prosecution of potential violations. Other recommendations include providing clear guidelines on acceptable gifts for Members of Parliament and addressing the relationship of the press and police.