Politics

EU corruption: Damning survey reveals fears of 'widespread' malpractice throughout bloc


The findings have sent a wave of anxiety and uncertainty amongst member states such as Austria, where 57 percent of companies say corruption is “very” or “fairly” widespread. This is compared with only 31 percent of companies in Germany. The poll discovered the EU corruption level average is a shocking 63 percent.

The companies surveyed pinpointed particularly high areas of corruption in Romania, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia.

At least nine out of ten companies involved in the survey said corruption is widespread, with levels in Romania set at a soaring 97 percent.

Greece fared no better at 95 percent.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said: ”Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law.

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The institute conducted telephone interviews with 7,722 companies in October, 300 of the phone calls were conducted in Austria.

The survey is called the Eurobarometer survey.

The news comes as Belgian authorities have launched a probe into allegations made against Didier Reynders, who is seeking to be confirmed as the European Union’s next justice commissioner.

Preliminary investigations have started looking into claims made by a former member of the country’s intelligence services about alleged corruption and money laundering in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Foreign minister Mr Reynders denied all the accusations made, according to the De Tijd newspaper.

He was named alongside arms dealers and a Congolese presidential candidate by the former intelligence agent, who last April made the allegations to the police.

It was alleged Belgium’s next commissioner took bribes during the construction of the Belgian embassy building in Kinshasa.

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It was further alleged he received or laundered cash through the purchase of antiques, property and transactions in tax havens.

The Brussels public prosecutors office has confirmed there is currently a criminal investigation underway into Mr Reynders.

But the probe will only be able to move past its preliminary stages if it is elevated to a full judicial investigation.

Police will first decide if there is credible evidence before handing the investigation to a team of specialist magistrates who focus on ministerial corruption claims.

Mr Reynders told journalists: “I am absolutely unaware of an investigation.”

He added he has instructed his lawyer to contact prosecutors to deny the allegations and defend his rights.

John Hendrickx, a spokesman for Mr Reynders, said: “Perhaps this is again a montage of the same malicious man who is constantly trying to do damage.”

The allegations will likely be raised when Mr Reynders is grilled by members of the European Parliament as part of the confirmation process for Ursula von der Leyen’s inauguration as the new President of the commission.

In her appointment letter, the incoming commission president said Mr Reynders would lead work on a review system for checking the independence of countries’ judiciaries and other rule of law complaints.



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