EUobserver, 26 March 2014
By Benjamin Fox
BRUSSELS – Three quarters of Europeans think corruption is a “major or widespread” problem in their political institutions, according to research published Tuesday (25 March)
- Twenty percent of Greeks and Italians report being asked to pay a bribe to public servants (Photo: StockMonkeys.com)
The countries worst hit by the European economic crisis have recorded larger decreases in trust in political institutions in recent years, with public perceptions of corruption above 90 percent, according to a report commissioned by the UK’s Committee on Standards in Public Life.
The highest levels of concern were in Greece – where 99 percent said corruption was a major problem – followed by Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland.
The research, which was based on data from the European Values Survey (EVS), the European Social Survey (ESS) and Eurobarometer, was commissioned following a sharp downturn in public trust in UK institutions caused in part by a parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009.
In a statement accompanying the report, Lord Paul Bew, the chairman of the Committee, said the survey was an attempt to measure whether declining public trust in the UK was “a unique national trend or part of a broader change in public attitudes across Western democracies”.
In Greece and Italy, where corruption was most frequently reported, almost 20 percent of respondents reported being asked or expected to pay a bribe during the previous 12 months.
UK nationals were the least likely to report having been asked or expected to pay a bribe, with just one percent telling the regular Eurobarometer survey that this had happened in 2013.
Meanwhile, despite an increase in the number of Danish respondents who believed corruption was widespread in their national and local institutions between 2011 and 2013, Denmark was the only case where the majority of respondents did not believe there to be corruption in either national or local public institutions.
National parliaments tended to be the lowest rated institution in European nations among citizens, lagging well behind the police and judicial system in almost all countries surveyed.
Citizens across Europe also believe that there is insufficient transparency in and supervision of the financing of political parties.