Corruption is a problem for almost half the companies doing business in Europe, a survey by the European Commission said on Monday.
An increasing number of European Union citizens think the problem is getting worse, Reuters reported.
Although the EU is often portrayed as one of the globe's cleanest regions, belief is widespread among businesses that the only way to succeed is through political connections.
Almost all companies in Greece, Spain and Italy believe it is widespread, said the report, the first by the Commission.
In Denmark, Finland and Sweden, corruption is considered rare.