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EU Member States Have Mixed Corruption Rankings

October 27, 2010

Transparency International released its annual rankings of the level of corruption around the globe this week.  Denmark tied with two other countries as the least corrupt in the world and overall the Nordic countries ranked very highly.  However, as the below graph shows, there was a wide range of scores across Europe.  Within the EU, scores ranged from Denmark’s 9.3 to Greece receiving a 3.5. Greece’s low score ranks the country 78th in the world, next to China.  Traditionally, Romania and Bulgaria have been viewed as the most corrupt members of the EU, and Greece’s decline is yet another blow to the battered country.  Last year, the three countries were all tied, but Bulgaria and Romania’s efforts to stamp out corruption have helped their scores to slightly improve.  Perhaps part of the success is that the EU is constantly vocal about corruption in Romania and Bulgaria, but it has remained quieter on Greece.

In general, at the EU expanded eastward, more corrupt countries joined, and this year’s rankings would support this trend—to a point.  While candidate countries of Croatia, Macedonia, and Turkey all had scores lower than the EU average of 6.4, they would not be the lowest in the EU.  In fact, seven EU members had lower scores than Turkey, and all three candidates were determined to be less corrupt than Italy (which was a founding member of the EU in 1957).  Of course, Iceland is in a class by itself as it would be tied for the fifth least corrupt EU member state…and the island country has a lot more control over its accession into the EU than the other candidates.

Finally, in an effort to help an American grasp what exactly do these numbers mean, the chart includes the U.S., which has the same score as Belgium and a world ranking of 22.  Incidentally, of the 21 countries considered less corrupt than the U.S., twelve are European (and nine members of the EU).  For a complete world comparison, visit Transparency International webpage.

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