When do anticorruption laws matter? The evidence on public integrity enabling contexts

This paper asks if there is evidence that the most common legislation recommended and used in the current anticorruption toolkit is effective in reducing corruption and if specific contexts can be identified which enable or disable effective legislation for control of corruption. The paper draws on documented public accountability and anticorruption tools from the PAM, the public accountability mechanisms database of the World Bank, and documents additional ones, including an index of anticorruption regulatory density, comprising anticorruption agencies, existence of an Ombudsman, restrictions to party finance legislation and others. While only fiscal transparency and financial disclosures are found to be significant, the interaction of some tools with context elements, such as freedom of the press of independence of the judiciary enhances their impact. The paper argues finally that the effectiveness of some anticorruption tools is strictly dependent on context, especially the existence of the rule of law, while others remain fully insignificant.

Red tape, bribery and government favouritism: evidence from Europe

Red tape has long been identified as a major cause of corruption, hence deregulation was advocated as an effective anticorruption tool, an advice which many country followed. However, we lack robust systematic evidence on whether deregulation actually lowers corruption. This is partially due to the difficulty of defining what is good regulation, but also to the lack of theoretical clarity about which type of corruption regulations impact on and to the deficient measurement of different types of corruption. In order to address the latter two gaps, we differentiate petty corruption from government favouritism and propose novel measurement of the latter by developing two objective proxy measures of favouritism in public procurement: single bidding in competitive markets and a composite score of tendering ‘red flags’. Using publicly available official electronic records of over 2.5 million government contracts in 27 EU member states and two European Economic Area countries in 2009–2014, we directly operationalize a common definition of favouritism: unjustified restriction of access to public contracts to favour a certain bidder. Petty corruption is measured using business surveys while the extent of business regulation is measured by Doing Business expert assessment of precise regulatory costs. Using country-level panel regression analysis, we find that deregulation has a heterogeneous impact on both low and high level corruption. It is largely ineffective in tackling government favouritism, with business start-up deregulation even facilitating such corruption. Whereas deregulating the various channels through which governments and businesses interact (e.g. obtaining construction permits) often decreases the perception of bribery and petty corruption. Policy consequences are profound and point at a more targeted and context-dependent promotion of the deregulation agenda. Full public procurement database is available at http://digiwhist.eu/resources/data/

Public Integrity and Trust in Europe

This report on trust and integrity in Europe was commissioned by the Dutch EU Presidency 2016 to a group of research institutes associated in the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project lead by Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

The report argues that economic performance alone does not explain the sometimes dramatic decline in trust in government. Europeans in many member states perceive a serious drop in the quality of governance, and the failure of current policies to redress it. Only in a minority of countries in present-day Europe we encounter a clear majority believing that success in either the public or private sector is due to merit. More than half of Europeans believe that the only way to succeed in business in their country is through political connections. Less than a quarter of Europeans agree that their government’s efforts in tackling corruption are effective. The countries where citizens perceive higher integrity and better governance are those that managed to preserve high levels of trust in government despite the economic crisis.

In pointing at these factors contributing to the growing loss of trust in national and European institutions throughout EU-28 the report takes major steps in helping to understand this crisis. It formulates lessons learned from this review if evidence and hopes to inform the policy debate on how to address the apparent lack of public integrity in Europe. The report introduces a new ranking of public integrity for the 28 EU Member States, representing the first ranking using objective measurements of public integrity in the EU.

Press coverage

News on this report was featured in the Greek News Agenda, the New East Platform and VoxEurop.

EU Aid and the Quality of Governance

Using a panel dataset on 103 developing countries, this paper empirically analyzes the impact of the European aid flows on quality of governance in aid recipient countries. The analysis employs aggregated Official Development Data as well as disaggregated project level data. The results show that while bilateral aid from the largest European donors does not show any impact, multilateral financial assistance from the EU Institutions leads to an improvement in governance indicators. These findings thus suggest that European development assistance can help to promote good governance if aid is allocated at the EU supranational level rather than at the national level of the member states.

EU Aid and the Quality of Governance

Using a panel dataset on 103 developing countries, this paper empirically analyzes the impact of the European aid flows on quality of governance in aid recipient countries. The analysis employs aggregated Official Development Data as well as disaggregated project level data. The results show that while bilateral aid from the largest European donors does not show any impact, multilateral financial assistance from the EU Institutions leads to an improvement in governance indicators. These findings thus suggest that European development assistance can help to promote good governance if aid is allocated at the EU supranational level rather than at the national level of the member states.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 3: Government Favouritism in Europe

This volume reunites the fieldwork of 2014-2015 in the ANTICORRP project. It is entirely based on objective indicators and offers both quantitative and qualitative assessments of the linkage between political corruption and organised crime using statistics on spending, procurement contract data and judicial data. The methodology used in the analysis of particularism of public resource distribution is applicable to any other country where procurement data can be made available and opens the door to a better understanding and reform of both systemic corruption and political finance. The main conclusion of this report is that public procurement needs far more transparency and monitoring in old Member States, where it is far from perfect, as well as new ones and accession countries, where major problems can be identified, partly due to more transparency and monitoring.This policy report is the third volume of the policy series “The Anticorruption Report” produced in the framework of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP Project. The report was edited by Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, PhD from the Hertie School of Governance, head of the policy pillar of the project.

Print and e-book versions of all full reports can be purchased here.

Reviews for this publication

Public infrastructure projects and other types of government procurement almost everywhere in the world suffer from favoritism and corruption, if not outright criminality. The spoils always go to the people with the right connections, wealth, or the willingness to use or threaten violence. This is among the most difficult aspects of governance for scholars to study: those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk. This slim volume summarizes detailed studies of favoritism in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. A final chapter shows how criminal organizations in many countries—including Mafia-like groups in Bulgaria and Italy—infiltrate national and EU-level public spending projects. Each chapter is packed with a remarkably rich set of charts, graphs, and statistical analyses that capture how much corruption exists and how it works. These succinct and eye-opening quantitative estimates of what really goes on beneath the surface of government make for indispensable reading and should straighten out anyone who doubts that the powerful always find ways to reinforce their influence and wealth, even on the “cleanest” of continents.

Andrew Moravcsik, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University in Foreign Affairs

Background report on international and European law against corruption

This report sets the background and the methodology design for the WP10 of the ANTICORRP project. WP10 seeks to explore whether and the extent to which, EU states comply with international anti-corruption norms, as well as their domestic implementation and enforcement. It has four main research objectives: a) to measure state compliance and implementation of international anti-corruption norms in Europe; b) to explore whether international law has an independent causal influence over the anti-corruption laws, policies and practices adopted by EU states; c) to identify patterns of variation of state compliance and implementation, whether cross-national, or across sectors and issue areas; and d) to explore the factors that account for significant variation across sectors or states.This report provides the empirical and analytical groundwork for pursuing the above research objectives and for defining the appropriate methodology to do so. It is divided into five main parts. In the first part, the authors briefly present the origins of how the fight against corruption became an issue of interest for the international community and for European and international organisations from the 1970s onwards, but especially since the 1990s. They then define corruption and its various aspects and forms, they discuss the difficulties in arriving at a commonly agreed definition and review some of the criticisms levelled against the legal approach to fighting corruption, as well as in regard to the domestic influence and effectiveness of international and EU law in this area more broadly. In the last part of this background section, the authors give an overview of the state of corruption in the EU28 on the basis of various indices and assessments compiled by international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).The second part of this report provides an overview of European and international legal norms and instruments against corruption, which are directly relevant for EU member states. The authors review both soft and hard law, describing their origins and how they emerged, the peer-review and monitoring mechanisms that they put in place, and how they work. The third part of the report is conceptual: it defines and analyses the concepts of compliance with, as well as implementation and effectiveness of international law. Most importantly, it conceptualises their relevance and applicability in regard to anti-corruption norms and conventions, and defines a way of measuring state compliance and implementation in this area. The fourth part of this report delineates four sectors or issue areas, which have been targeted by international and European norms against corruption: international economic transactions, conflict of interest, free speech and whistle-blowers’ protection and political party funding. The final part of the report defines the appropriate research methodology of the group of studies to be conducted within WP10, and identifies the sources of primary and secondary information and documentation to draw from in pursuing the aforementioned objectives.

Domestic Implementation of Human Rights Judgments in Europe: Legal Infrastructure and Government Effectiveness Matter

Over the past couple of years, international law and international relations scholarship has shifted its focus from the question of whether human rights treaties bring any state-level improvements at all to investigations in the domestic context of the factors and dynamics influencing state compliance. In this direction, and focusing on the European Court of Human Rights, this study inquires into the factors that account for variable patterns of state compliance with its judgments. Why do national authorities in some states adopt a more prompt and responsive attitude in implementing these judgments, in contrast to other states that procrastinate or respond reluctantly? On the basis of a large-N study of the Strasbourg Court’s judgments and a comparison across nine states, this article argues that variation in state implementation performance is closely linked to the overall legal infrastructure capacity and government effectiveness of a state. When such capacity and effectiveness are high and diffused, the adverse judgments of the Strasbourg Court are unlikely to be obstructed or ignored, even when the government, political elites, or other actors are reluctant and not in favour of substantive remedies.