What rule of law? Three-quarters of EU citizens believe corruption in bloc is widespread

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The startling data, contained within the bloc’s 2022 Eurobarometer on Corruption, was highlighted in a report published by the pro-Brexit think tank Facts4EU. Facts4EU’s report says the results “are so bad the EU had to bury them in a press release about its enormous ‘Rule of Law’ report, released on Wednesday”.

The survey, which has been running since 2005, is designed to explore the level of corruption perceived and experienced by EU citizens, 74 percent of whom believed corruption is widespread in public institutions.

Facts4EU’s analysis also provided numbers for the UK from the 2019 report by way of comparison. Hence, while throughout the EU27, 68 percent of respondents agreed with the statement ‘Corruption is widespread in my country’, just 13 percent of Britons did as of three years ago.

Additionally, while 11 percent of people living in the EU27 personally knew somebody who had taken a bribe, in the UK the figure was five percent – the lowest in the EU28 in 2019.

The Eurobarometer also reveals huge disparities in levels of corruption throughout the bloc. For example, in 98 percent of Greeks and 88 percent of Bulgarians agreed with the statement: ‘Corruption is widespread in my country’. In Finland and Denmark, the figures stand at 17 percent and 16 percent respectively.

Europeans are also revealed to be deeply pessimistic about actions taken at national level to address corruption as a crime.

Just 37 percent of those surveyed believed measures against corruption were being applied “impartially and without ulterior motives”.

Meanwhile only 34 percent felt there were sufficient prosecutions to deter people from corrupt practice.

Less than one-third (31 percent) felt their national government’s efforts to combat corruption were effective or that there was sufficient transparency and supervision of the financing of political parties in their country (31 percent each).

Facts4EU chairman Leigh Evans said: “There seem to be more Eurobarometer surveys than you can shake a stick at.

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“They are extensive and costly, involving detailed interviews typically with over 30,000 people.”

Mr Evans added: “This particular one is interesting because of the EU’s claim to be based on ‘the Rule of Law’.

“It becomes hard to square this claim with the fact that an average of three in four EU citizens believed ‘corruption is widespread in public institutions’.

“Presumably this is why there wasn’t an EU Commission press release specifically about this Eurobarometer, as there have been on so many others.”

In a statement issued to accompany the publication of the figures for July, the EU Commission said: “In some Member States, investigations and prosecutions into corruption cases are lengthy and judgments still lacking, especially in high-level cases.

“Public officials are subject to asset and interest disclosure obligations in all Member States, but these vary in scope, transparency and accessibility of disclosed information, as well as in the level and effectiveness of verification and enforcement.”

EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “The EU will only remain credible if we uphold the rule of law at home and if we continue to reinforce the rule of law culture. I am glad to see that our report contributes to this objective.

“It helps to drive forward important reforms in the Member States.

“Today we are not only reporting on the rule of law situation, but we are also recommending constructive ways to improve justice systems, step up the fight against corruption, and ensure a free and independent media and strong checks and balances.”

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