New Europe with old borders

Old behavioural patterns complicate access of Eastern European Countries to EU unsplash-logoArno Senoner

Model students like Germany (9) and Denmark (1) are concerned about developments in former Eastern Bloc states.

Transparency’s International Corruption Perceptions Index exists since 1995. 180 countries are compared regarding their ranking in corruption. It is still a showcase how divided Europe still is. There is a sharp border between the “old” Western European member states and the relatively new participants from Eastern Europe.

Fourteen of the top 20 countries in this year’s CPI are from Western Europe and the European Union (EU), including nine countries from the EU alone. With 87 points, Denmark is the highest-scoring country in the region, followed by Finland (86), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85). At the bottom of the region are Bulgaria (43), Romania (44) and Hungary (44).

Despite being the best performing region, with an average score of 66 out of 100, Western Europe and the EU are not immune to corruption. Most post-communist EU member states are struggling to address corruption effectively. Several countries, including Hungary, Poland and Romania, have taken steps to undermine judicial independence, which weakens their ability to prosecute cases of high-level corruption.

In the Czech Republic (56), recent scandals involving the prime minister and his efforts to obtain public money through EU subsidies for his company highlight a startling lack of political integrity. The scandals also point to an insufficient level of transparency in political campaign financing.

The six Western Balkan Countries did not rank up, too. North Macedonia and Albania both fell by 13, resp. 7 positions. These two countries are applying for entering European Union but since EU’s enlargement has faced its depression, it is becoming harder if not impossible to apply successfully. Same with Turkey, which ranks at 91 and Ukraine, ranking at 126.

All in all, this year’s CPI reveals that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption. The top countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with transparency-scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).

The bottom countries are Somalia, South Sudan and Syria with scores of 9, 12 and 13, respectively. These countries are closely followed by Yemen (15), Venezuela (16), Sudan (16), Equatorial Guinea (16) and Afghanistan (16). Thus, Eastern European countries do not mean buttom line. But it’s still a matter of scale when these countries are or want to become part of one of the most successful and profitable economic areas of the world. Its existing members do not tend to share this wealth with corrupt elites and/or criminals.