European Commission says corruption costing EU 120bn euros annually

Brussels: Presenting a first ever report of its kind on European Union, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said that there was “no corruption-free zone” across Europe and all the 28 member states witnessed corruption on one or the other levels.

The report that was prepared after an intensive study conducted across all 28 states says that corruption costs the 28-member bloc 120 billion euros, that is, $162 billions which can cater to the bloc’s annual budget.

Talking to a news conference, Malmstrom said that enough was not being done to counter graft.

“There are no corruption-free zones in Europe… We are not doing enough. And this is true for all member states,” she said.

“Corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue,” said Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Describing the extent of corruption across the EU as “breathtaking” in a Swedish daily, Malmstrom said that corruption was eroding the trust in democracy and draining resources from legal economy.

“The extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking, although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems,” she wrote.

The report found corruption is generally more present at local and regional levels, and that in some EU countries it is especially frequent when it comes to obtaining heath care services, or in the construction and promotion of real estate projects in urban areas.

Inflated government contracts are a particular problem, Malmstrom said. Government-financed procurement of goods and services accounts for 20 percent of all spending in the European Union, the commissioner said, and studies indicate that up to a quarter of the money expended may be siphoned off by corruption.

As for the private sector, four of 10 companies quizzed in one survey consider corruption an obstacle to doing business in the EU, Malmstrom said.

“A huge amount of money is lost here,” she said. “If you don’t condemn corruption because it’s immoral and how it erodes democratic legitimacy, at least for economic reasons there is good case to do more.”

The money Europeans pay in taxes is too often misspent to purchase goods and services that don’t give citizens a proper return for their money, she said.

With Agency Inputs

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