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Corruption: stepping up the fight - 06/06/2011

Judge holding gavel © Corbis

Package of measures would better arm EU countries to fight corruption.

Four out of five EU citizens say corruption is a major problem in their country, underlining the need for a firmer political commitment to fight this crime and the economic, social and political harm it causes.

Bribes, kickbacks and illegal payments from individuals, businesses and organised crime bypass the democratic process, hamper the fair operation of the economy and penalise the honest.

Corruption is estimated to cost some €120bn per year, about 1% of the EU's gross domestic product.

All EU countries have laws against corruption, but they are not always implemented consistently. To help focus efforts, European governments have given the Commission a political mandate to develop a common anti-corruption approach.

The first step involves assessments – to be published every two years from 2013 – to monitor countries' progress in preventing and reducing corruption. The assessments will complement those already published by international bodies.

Other proposals include:

  • revising EU rules to make it easier to confiscate criminal assets and ensure national courts are able to enforce confiscation orders across the Union
  • amending rules on public procurement, accounting standards and statutory audits for EU companies
  • improving criminal financial investigations and helping governments collect more accurate crime statistics
  • stepping up judicial and police cooperation and training for law enforcement officials
  • developing a better strategy to combat the misuse of EU money
  • strengthening anti-corruption requirements for countries wishing to join the EU
  • setting more anti-corruption conditions on aid and grants to other countries
  • cooperating more closely with EU agencies such as Europol and the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF).

A new report shows several countries still have not implemented EU rules which make active and passive bribery by private companies a crime.

The Commission is calling on them to do so. It also encourages EU countries that have not done so to ratify and implement anti-corruption agreements by the Council of Europe, the UN and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The EU wants to participate in GRECO, the Council of Europe's anti-corruption group, to which all member countries already belong.

More on the fight against corruption

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