From Turkey to Egypt, Bulgaria to Ukraine, and Brazil to India, we witness the rise of an angry urban middle class protesting against what they see as fundamental corruption of their politicalregimes, perceived as predatory and inefficient. Corruption is near the top of all global protesters’ list of grievances – from the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring. There is increasing demand for good governance resulting in quality education and health systems, and denunciation of sheer bread and circus populism. Volume 2 of the ANTICORRP Anticorruption Report tackles these issues across key cases and developments.
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Fazekas et al explore the impact of EU structural funds on institutionalised grand corruption in three countries where corruption is systemic – Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia – between 2009-2012. They examine whether EU funds have contributed to weakening institutional quality in terms of wasteful public spending and increased ‘legal’ corruption conducted through public procurement. By exploiting a unique pooled database containing contract-level public procurement information for all three countries they are able to systematically examine corruption risks associated with EU funding at the micro-level. The authors also develop a composite corruption risks indicator based on the incidence and logical structure of ‘irregularities’ in individual public procurement transactions.
Fazekas et al. ultimately claim that EU funding impacts institutionalised grand corruption in CEE in two ways: first, by providing additional public resources available for corrupt rent extraction; second, by increasing the controls of corruption for the additionally allocated funding. Their preliminary calculations indicate that the first effect increases the value of particularistic resource allocation in the three countries up to 1.21% of their GDPs, while the second effect decreases the value of particularistic resource allocation by up to 0.03% of GDP. However, the latter beneficial effect is entirely driven by Slovakia, which has a high national corruption risk level; while in Czech Republic and Hungary this impact is even negative. The authors conclude with several policy recommendations calling for a radical improvement of the monitoring and controlling framework.
Why, despite their most remarkable progress on democracy, have most East Central European states retained modest levels of governance? Is civil society still able to play any significant role in improving governance, even after its institutionalization at low levels of participation, after its initial high mobilization in the early years of democratization? Does the impact, or lack of impact, of civil society do anything to explain the quality of governance? This paper addresses all these issues and more.
In the textbooks on democratic transition, Central and Eastern Europe provides the model of success. Yet in Brussels concern over the politics of the new EU members has been mounting. The day after accession, when conditionality has faded, the influence of the EU vanished like a short-term anesthetic. Political parties needed to behave during accession in order to reach this highly popular objective, but once freed from these constraints, they returned to their usual ways. Now we see Central and Eastern Europe as it really is—a region that has come far but still has a way to go.