‘Wake-up call!’ Corruption in EU set to soar as eurocrats dish out £687bn – damning poll

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It comes after a scathing new report revealed 62 percent of Europeans believe corruption is a “big” problem in their country. The Global Corruption Barometer for the EU prompted a stark warning from an MEP and transparency campaigner, who claimed the issue is expected to worsen as Brussels begins to hand out vast sums to pandemic-stricken countries to boost their economies. German Daniel Freund told Politico: “Corruption in EU member states is an enormous problem, and at the same time, member states and the EU Commission are doing too little to tackle the problem.”

He added: “The problem will become much worse in the coming months.”

The anti-corruption activist called for more funding to be pumped into the newly formed European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

He also complained that the “existing rule-of-law mechanism is still not being applied” to hold back funds from EU nations flouting the bloc’s rules and regulations.

Trust in national governments has appeared to plummet during a health crisis, according to the study by campaigners Transparency International.

Almost a third of EU residents – the equivalent of 106 million people – claimed they had been directly hit by corruption, including paying bribes or using personal connections to access public services.

Around 29 percent of people admitted to using personal connections in order to get access to healthcare during the pandemic.

And six percent said they had paid a bribe for healthcare, according to the survey of more than 40,000 people in the EU from October to December 2020.

Corruption was found to be on the rise by the pollsters at Kantar, who carried out the study.

In Cyprus, 65 percent of people believe corruption in their country has increased in the past 12 months.

In Slovenia, who will take over the EU’s rotating presidency next, the figure was 51 percent.

Portugal (41 percent) and Italy (34 percent) also featured in the top ten countries deemed to be affected by fraud.

And most people believe politicians are to blame for the high levels of corruption in their countries.

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When asked whether “most all people in the following institutions are corrupt”, 28 percent of people said members of parliament.

A quarter said business chiefs were corrupt, while bankers and the offices of the prime minister or president were both mentioned by 23 percent of respondents.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International, said: “During a health crisis, using personal connections to access public services can be as damaging as paying bribes.

“Lives can be lost when connected people get a COVID-19 vaccine or medical treatment before those with more urgent needs.

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“It’s crucial that governments across the EU redouble their efforts to ensure a fair and equitable recovery from the ongoing pandemic.”

Michiel van Hulten, Director of Transparency International EU, added: “These results should be a wake-up call for both national governments and the EU institutions.

“Corruption is undermining public trust and policy makers need to listen to the concerns of the public.

“There are many immediate actions that can be taken to remedy these problems, such as increasing lobbying transparency both at the EU and national levels and tackling tax avoidance. And EU policies to protect whistleblowers and fight money laundering must be effectively and swiftly transposed into national law.”

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