Bulgaria and Romania need to ratchet up pace of reform, but older member states have deficits to answer for, too
Transparency International today welcomed the critical tone of the European Commission’s reports on Romania and Bulgaria’s performance on fighting corruption and organised crime. The leading anti-corruption organisation also called for the commission to set up permanent monitoring mechanisms for all members, to ensure uniform commitment across the union.
“A European Union that works must be free of corruption,” said Miklos Marschall, Transparency International Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “The fight against corruption in Romania and Bulgaria is a question of the integrity of the entire European Union. It’s critical.”
“It’s a cruel irony that the EU has maximum leverage in questions of corruption performance before accession,” said Transparency International EU Policy Officer, Rune Rasmussen. “But once countries are in the Union, where money, goods, people – and problems - can move freely, the influence drops to almost zero. This has to change.”
Despite pointing to progress made and good intentions, the reports point specifically to shortcomings in the judicial treatment of corruption cases, echoing findings of TI national chapters in both countries.
The commission can push for certain laws and institutions, but essentially the fight against corruption is a national responsibility. National media and civil society must keep the pressure up and hold governments to account for promises they made before - and after - accession.
But existing member both old and new, who still score poorly on corruption indicators such as TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index years after accession, show the need for stronger EU-wide control measures.
Transparency International encourages the European Commission to set up permanent anti-corruption monitoring mechanisms to keep up pressure where national pressure has not been sufficient. There should be reports just like the ones released today for all member states to ensure a corruption-free EU.
To prime the process from the start, Transparency International encourages the European Commission to further open the accession process to civil society – which will be immediately relevant for Croatia. This will enable a more participatory and transparent accession process but also give civil society groups a stronger basis for holding governments to account during and after accession.
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