It’s important the people of Europe understand just how much damage corruption causes to the EU’s institutions and finances – all footed by the taxpayers. A recent study put the figure at an astonishing 990bn EUR a year. This is an astronomical sum and corruption should be the primary focus of EU efforts – sadly it can often be found excusing and legitimising corruption if it fits its broader political aims.
In 2016, the 990bn EUR figure was reached in a study commissioned by the EU parliament itself. RAND Europe, who conducted the study, put the cost to EU taxpayers at between 179bn and 990bn EUR each year.
Corruption related to public procurement was estimated at 5bn EUR per year. This is an ongoing problem for the EU itself, where vast budgets are assigned with weak oversight practice and a remote demos. It is exacerbated by the significant variance across member states in the strength of their civil societies and accountability structures. It is not an advantageous mix. During the boom years of the noughties it grew to absurd proportions, leaving ghost towns and even ghost airports across Europe.
Many of those who countries with the worst track record on corruption are also those in receipt of the most funding from the European taxpayer: Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia all feature heavily.
A spokesperson for Transparency International commented on the EU’s proposed counter-measures: “Given the scale of the problem these are very modest proposals… And the fact that the EU has not been able to deliver on these very modest things is probably an indication of how low a priority this has been for the EU over the last number of years.”
Europeans don’t have the luxury of pouring billions down the toilet, the bloc is struggling to kick on economically and taxpayers understand the broader corrosive effects of a pervasive culture, and tolerance, of corruption. The EU needs to act.