Europe's corruption problem

Published: Friday, June 8 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: With financial struggles spreading across Europe, a new report from Transparency International sheds a dark light across the already bleak outlook. The report found that corruption is running rampant throughout Europe.

“Political parties, public administrations and the private sector are assessed as the weakest forces in the promotion of integrity across Europe,” says the report. Political party funding is inadequately regulated, lobbying remains veiled in secrecy, parliaments don’t live up to their own ethical standards, public procurement practices breed corruption and there isn’t enough legal protection for whistleblowers.

Whew. No wonder the rest of the world isn’t inclined to take lessons from the Europeans any more. Except, of course, that corruption can and does flourish everywhere. “We have the best government that money can buy,” Mark Twain, the 19th-century American humorist, once remarked of his own country.

More disturbing is the report’s contention that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia are displaying signs of a rollback of anti-corruption efforts since they joined the EU in 2004. In Slovenia, meanwhile, a remarkably high 93 per cent of respondents in a recent opinion poll thought that corruption in their country had either increased or stayed at the same level over the past three years.

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