Rhein on Energy and Climate

Since 1995 Transparency International, the Berlin-based, international non-governmental organisation, committed to the fight against corruption, has published global corruption reports, which rank the perceptions of corruption in 183 countries.

The 2011 report that has come out December 1st confirms a common impression: wealthy countries that internalise protestant ethics are performing best, followed by those with Confucian, and Catholic ethics. Countries with democratic and good governance traditions score much better than non-democratic ones. Countries with low income suffer more from corruption than richer ones. And failing states like North Korea or Somalia are doing worst.

New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Sweden are at the top of the list scoring more than 9 of 10 possible points.

All EU countries, with the exception of Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovakia, score among the best 60 of the 183 screened countries. The 10 best-performing EU countries rank among the top 20, a performance of which the EU can be proud.

The EU shares the excellent record with other largely protestant countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Iceland, USA, Norwegen, Switzerland on the one hand and Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan on the other.

Bulgaria, Greece and Romania tarnish the otherwise perfect EU performance. This may be partially due to the long periods these three countries have lived under foreign domination. EU membership has so far failed to improve their performance.

Three policy conclusions should be drawn from this analysis.

  • The EU must continue to exert strong pressure on its laggard countries to do better
  • The level of corruption should figure more prominently among the criteria for EU membership. The example of Bulgaria shows that the EU loses its leverage once countries have joined.
  • Third countries with persistently high levels of corruption should obtain little or no assistance from the EU.
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