European governments struggling the most with their finances are also the most corrupt, with Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain doing the least to fight corruption, campaigners said Wednesday.
More accustomed to tracking corruption in poorer African or Asian nations, Transparency International said the failure to adequately prevent, detect and sanction corruption was one factor behind the European debt crisis.
Naming the quartet repeatedly in its first report on Western Europe, the global anti-corruption watchdog said: “Those European countries that perform worst on global indicators measuring the ‘control of corruption’ also run the highest deficits.”
The report also showed there was no regulation of lobbying in 19 of the 25 countries surveyed — the European Union’s 27 members minus Austria, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta, plus Norway and Switzerland. Only 10 ban anonymous political donations.
“Across Europe many of the institutions that define a democracy and enable a country to stop corruption are weaker than often assumed,” said Cobus de Swardt, who heads Transparency International.
Only two countries adequately protect whistleblowers from retaliation while 17 countries lack codes of conduct for parliamentarians.
There were also barriers for people wanting to access public information in 20 countries, the watchdog said.
Denmark, Norway and Sweden were the best protected, but there had been serious rolling back on corruption in some central and eastern European countries — notably the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia — since they joined the EU.