According to a report published by the organization Transparency International (TI), Germany has made small steps towards wiping out corruption. Compared to the last corruption index compiled in 2001, Germany has moved up four spots to number 16 on the list of least corrupt countries. The head for TI in Germany, Hansjörg Eishorst, attributed the improvement to changes instituted in international corporations and government agencies over the last few years. Whereas corruption used to be fairly commonplace among foreign companies operating in Germany, such practices are illegal today and guilty companies risk losing their tax breaks, Eishorst said at a press conference Tuesday. German civil servants have also been forced to tighten their standards and those employees cought with their fingers in the cookie jar are now handed a hefty punishment, if not fired outright. However, Eishorst warned that just as Germany makes inroads in its battle to eliminate corruption, illegal practices such as blackmail could become more frequent when the European Union expands eastward in 2004. "It is foreseeable that the pressure to ‘play along with’ corruption in government institutions, which has grown in the recent past, will continue to increase when the EU expands," Eishorst said.