High-level corruption costs European nations more than $162 billion per year, according to a report by the European Commission.
“Corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the result of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue,” European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said, according to a report by Time
. “Member states have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s report shows that it is far from enough.”
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The report said that corruption exists throughout the 28 member states in the European Union. It said countries that need improvement are Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Spain, while Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden are among the least corrupt.
“There is no 'corruption-free' zone in Europe," Malmström told Agence France-Presse.
She said the estimated cost of corruption equals the annual budget of the European Union, and the actual figure could be higher.
Areas where corruption is seen include awarding government contracts, political financing, and health care, according to The New York Times
Government purchases account for about 20 percent of the EU economy.
The report found that 56 percent of citizens believe corruption has increased in their countries. It calls for more transparency and accountability.
Forty-three percent of companies surveyed see corruption as a problem, according to a report by Reuters
. Among construction companies, the problem is more widespread, with eight in 10 complaining about corruption.
Eight out of 10 citizens pointed to close ties between business and politics as a contributing factor.
"What the report shows is that there has been a consistent failure among politicians to regulate their conflicts of interests, particularly in their dealings with business and industry," said Carl Dolan, director of the European Union office of Transparency International, according to an ABC News report
Transparency International called the report an important step toward curtailing corruption.
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