The Anticorruption Report Vol. 4: Beyond the Panama Papers

The final title in the series The Anticorruption Report covers the most important findings of the five-year-long EU-sponsored ANTICORRP project on corruption and organized crime. How prone to corruption are EU funds? Who wins and who loses the anticorruption fight? And can we have better measurements than people’s perceptions to indicate if corruption changes? This issue introduces a new index of public integrity and a variety of other tools created in the project.

The Anticorruption Report Vol. 4: Beyond the Panama Papers looks at the performance of EU Good Governance Promotion in different countries in the European neighbourhood. Case studies focussing on Spain, Slovakia and Romania are considering the impact of EU structural funds and good governance promotion within the Union. Further chapters looking at Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Tanzania are analysing EU democracy and good governance support in third countries. The report, edited by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Jana Warkotsch offers a comprehensive and overarching look at the successes and pitfalls of the EU’s efforts to democracy promotion and introduces new ways to assess the state of good governance in different countries around the world.

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.

Report on Turkey on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector

The report employs national data to analyse recent developments in the construction sector. However, the contract-level procurement data have not been compiled as requests for the data were unanswered by the Turkish Public Procurement Agency. Therefore, aggregate data on public procurement have been used to trace developments in law and implementation. The post-2002 incumbent AKP government has to a large extent considered construction investments as an engine of economic growth which resulted in a substantial expansion of this sector. The Turkish Public Procurement Law (PPL) came into force in 2003 to bring Turkey into compliance with EU procurement standards. Although certain improvements have been achieved, frequently introduced exemptions distorted the rules and procedures for transparency, competition and non-discrimination. A considerable number of amendments have aimed at removing major public contracts from the scope of PPL. Recently, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been used principally to build up large-scale infrastructure projects. Due to the large capital requirements and the fact that the legal structure of PPPs is largely incompatible with the PPL and the EU regulations, only a smaller group of companies which have allegedly close connections with top level politicians win PPP projects worth billions of Euros. Thus, under the current framework, PPPs in the Turkish construction sector are significantly prone to corruption risks.

Report on Romania on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector

Improving infrastructure in Romania has been a significant project in the past 25 years. Unfortunately, although large amounts of public funds were spent in the construction sector from 2007 to 2013 (an average of 6.6% of GDP), the physical results in terms of project quality and completion do not match this investment. One of the explanations for this is that public contracts were awarded to companies based on corrupted practices or political connections, the focus being on redistributing public money and not achieving high quality construction works.The present research points to the fact that statistical data analysis can be used in detecting corruption. The practice of single bidding and the tendency to establish political connections exist in the entire public procurement market. Nonetheless, non-EU funded contracts present a higher corruption risk. Only 1 out of 7 contracts receiving European funding were awarded to a single bidder, as opposed to 1 out of 4 contracts financed by the state budget. Still, 1 out of every 3 contracts won by a politically connected firm involved European funding. Data analysis also concluded that the number of contracts awarded per company can be explained by single bidding and the existence of a political connection in 44% of the cases. The agency-capture analysis revealed that favouritism in public procurement occurs especially at the local level and in state-owned companies. Most of the companies that “captured” contracting authorities are politically connected firms.At the same time, the case studies give an account of how firms’ owners go to great lengths to consolidate a network of relationships with high ranking officials so as to keep their doors open and contact political elites, but also various state institutions whose activity can favour or disrupt their companies’ economic well-being.

Report on Hungary on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector

This report aims to document and to investigate the extent and the determinants of government favouritism in EU funded infrastructure development. It uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods. While predominantly relying on the analysis of contract-level quantitative data on Hungarian public procurement, it also provides a discussion of the institutional framework and particular cases based on document analysis and interviews.It finds that public procurement of infrastructure from national or EU Funds is a hotspot for corruption in Hungary just like in the other countries investigated by ANTICORRP Work Package 8. However, corruption is not pervasive everywhere and even high-level political influence has it limits. While the economic environment has varied greatly, public procurement spending on infrastructure followed a political logic with elections, EU funding cycles, and political power games playing a crucial role. It has proven to be one key public resource up for grabs for corrupt elites. Controls of corruption in public procurement in general are weak: not only is effective transparency very limited and declining rapidly since 2010, but also institutional remedies are likely to be controlled by the current governing party.As a result of extensive public resources available, weak controls, and a complex regulatory environment facilitating close cooperation between bidders and public bodies, corruption is widespread in infrastructure provision. Political connections, far from having a uniform impact, are effective in facilitating rent extraction only when organisational integrity is weak and both the bidders and contracting entities are politically controlled. In micro-cosmoses of high integrity, political connections are ineffective at best, but may even handicap companies.

Report on Germany on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector

Germany has the highest public procurement expenditure in the EU, with an average of 370 billion euros a year between 2009 and 2013. The main objective of this report is to shed some light on the inner workings of the German public procurement system by providing a general overview of its historical development, the current trends in procurement spending and assessing potential risks for corruption. Given that Germany has two parallel procurement systems active at the time, one for contracts above the EU thresholds and one for the contracts underneath these limits, each one of them is evaluated separately. The lack of high quality tender-level data for the case of Germany made it impossible to base the risk assessment on objective indicators. Therefore, this report relies on different sources of data to determine the size of the procurement spending in the country, the manner in which it is allocated and the potential risks of corruption. The study concludes that the public procurement system in Germany – especially the one in place for contracts underneath EU thresholds – is vulnerable to corruption given its complex legislation that damages nation-wide competition, the lack of transparency in the awarding process, a clear or unified national legislation and the low utilization of e-procurement platforms.

Report on Croatia on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector

This report seeks to assess the extent of favouritism – i.e., preferential treatment for some bidders over others – in the allocation of public procurement contracts in the construction sector in Croatia. The methodology is based on identifying opportunities for favouritism and evaluating the effectiveness of constraints. The research finds that Croatia’s public procurement law sets a high standard and there are numerous transparency and control mechanisms in place. Nevertheless, the integrity of procurement is undermined because a large share of it is contracted by entities which are owned by government units and thus subject to political influence and constrained by a much weaker control framework. Data on the procurement of high-value construction works is analysed for indicators of favouritism in the process or outcomes. Whilst there is only limited use of restrictive procedures, competition for public contracts is surprisingly weak in a sector under considerable economic pressure. Moreover, around one-half of the total contract value is won by tenderers which are not private companies but rather entities that are partially or fully owned by the state. This raises further questions about the potential for political leaders to influence the process in order to achieve favouritism in the allocation of public contracts, to benefit themselves or third parties. Evidence from the verdict of a trial involving high-ranking politicians suggests further that such favouritism may be widespread.

Report on Bulgaria on institutions in public procurement for the infrastructure sector

The Bulgarian public procurement market constituted 9% of national GDP on average from 2009 – 2013, which is lower than the EU average. Public procurement has been particularly important for the construction sector in the country, with approximately a third of total sector turnover deriving from public procurement in 2013. Since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 the survival of the construction sector in Bulgaria has essentially hinged on public procurement, coming mostly from EU funds. This concentration of market power in the hands of the public administration, coupled with a history of lack of effectiveness, integrity and control, and persistent structural governance deficiencies imply significant corruption risks. Although the legal framework has continuously improved, it is subject to too frequent changes to ensure proper implementation.The firm-level analysis of the public procurement contracts awarded to the top 40 construction companies included in the paper, confirms the trend of concentration of the construction sector. The data does not confidently detect a specific type of favouritism but corruption risks are detected in specific cases, especially involving large-scale construction projects in the infrastructure and energy sectors. Anecdotal evidence abounds that powerful private operators exert pressure on the public administration to channel public procurement to major companies, linked either legally and/or through circles of influence to them.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 2: The Anticorruption Frontline

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.

Print and e-book version of the report can be purchased here.

The Legacies of 1989: The Transformative Power of Europe Revisited

Why has the EU succeeded in promoting democracy in the new member states but failed in promoting good governance?  This essay seeks to answer this question first by distinguishing governance from political regimes, and second by exploring to what extent national governance—which is defined as the set of formal and informal institutions that determine who gets what in a given country—is susceptible to being improved by external pressure or intervention. It concludes that improving governance remains a challenge even for the democratic character of the European project.

Are EU funds a corruption risk? The impact of EU funds on grand corruption in Central and Eastern Europe

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.

Hidden Depths. The Case of Hungary

This report investigates corruption risk of EU funds spending in Hungary within the framework of the Public Procurement Law. Its finding is that in spite of what is a tight regulatory framework EU funds are likely to fuel the abuse of public spending. Even though public procurement using EU funds faces considerably more stringent regulation, their use poses much greater corruption risks when compared with funds procured domestically and corruption risks are particularly pronounced for large projects. The report also argues that large-scale institutionalized corruption in Hungary may be widespread and driven primarily by political cycles. Such corruption, often labeled “legal corruption”, typically involves neither bribery nor collusion between lower level bureaucrats and private individuals; rather, it operates through contractual relationships which benefit the highest echelons of the political and business elite. There are a small number of new anti-corruption initiatives of the new government which entered office in 2010, but while they might indicate a positive step towards higher public sector integrity, their results are yet to be seen.