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Corruption index

November 17, 2009

Several European Union member states have done well in a new global corruption index. Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands are all in the top 10 with low levels of public sector corruption.

A hand puts a wad of 100-euro notes into a jacket pocket
EU countries continued to score well in the corruption indexImage: picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb

While most Western European states were judged to have comparatively low levels of corruption, the Corruption Perception Index, which was released Tuesday by Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International, said there was still a clear gulf between them and many Eastern European states.

The vast majority of the 180 countries around the world included in the 2009 survey scored below five on a scale from zero to 10, with zero signifying high levels of corruption.

High scores reflect political stability, long-established conflict-of-interest regulations and solid, functioning public institutions.

Northern members of the EU continued to achieve high scores with Denmark, Finland and Sweden all receiving a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score of around nine for 2009. The Netherlands, with 8.9 points, Luxembourg, with 8.2 points, Germany and Ireland, with eight points, Austria, with 7.9, and the UK, with 7.7, were the EU member states that featured in the global top 20.

EU divide

The report noted with concern negative developments in Greece that pushed its score from 4.7 down to 3.8 this year. "Insufficient levels of anti-corruption enforcement, lengthy delays in the judicial process and a string of corporate scandals" pointed to systemic weaknesses in the country, the report stated.

Perceived levels of public sector corruption were also high in Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia and Slovakia, none of which received a score above 4.5.

"Sustained anti-corruption efforts are required to improve integrity and accountability and to ensure that both individual states and the European Union live up to the anti-corruption expectations and aspirations of their citizens," the report said.

The CPI report also said that a great deal of the "bribery and the facilitation of corruption" in poor or conflict-stricken countries often involved businesses based in industrialized countries.

The report added that financial secrecy rules in many of the countries which had otherwise done well in the index severely undermined efforts to tackle corruption and recover stolen assets.

Top of the index was New Zealand, and other countries in the global top 10 included Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and Iceland. Countries which ranked at the foot of the index were Somalia, Afghanistan, Burma, Sudan and Iraq, which the report noted had been "plagued by long-standing conflicts which have torn apart their governance infrastructure."

Editor: Michael Lawton