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.

Fixing Europe Is About Performance, Not Democracy

The gradual drop in public confidence in the EU since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis indicates an erosion of the long-held belief among citizens and elites alike that European integration is the best option to secure a better future. But is it EU democracy that is being challenged here, or is democracy itself challenging the prospects for EU integration? To answer this question, this article briefly reviews first-hand evidence of the basis of trust and the loss of it in European institutions. The evidence is dealt with at a national rather than individual level, and comprises mostly survey data and primary facts that can inform a policy argument. This article does not offer a full explanation of populism nor of attitudes to democracy or globalization, each of which clearly deserve an article in their own right. Instead, it uses data to deconstruct the myths of the EU loss of confidence and its connection with democracy. The two main factors found to decrease trust in the EU are economic growth and confidence in national governments’ performance in terms of controlling corruption.

Corruption in universities: a blueprint for reform

What is to be done when an entire education system is corrupted, when universities sell cheap diplomas and the best academics move abroad? Corruption in the academy can be challenged by a ‘clean universities’ ranking and the power of press coverage.

Mode of International Investment and Endogenous Risk of Expropriation

This paper analyzes the relationship between the mode of international investment and institutional quality. Foreign investors from a capital-rich North can either purchase productive assets in a capital-poor South and transfer their capital within integrated multinational firms or they can form joint ventures with local asset owners. The South is ruled by an autocratic elite that may use its political power to expropriate productive assets. The expropriation risk lowers the incentive to provide specific capital in an integrated firm and distorts the decision between joint ventures and integrated production. We determine the equilibrium risk of expropriation in this framework and the resulting pattern of international production. We also analyze as to how globalization, which is reflected in a decline in investment costs, influences institutional quality.

Financial Integration in Autocracies: Greasing the Wheel or More to Steal

This paper analyzes the influence of financial integration on institutional quality. We construct a dynamic political-economic model of an autocracy in which a ruling elite uses its political power to expropriate the general population. Although financial integration reduces capital costs for entrepreneurs and thereby raises gross incomes in the private sector, the elite may counteract this effect by increasing the rate of expropriation. Since de facto political power is linked to economic resources, financial integration also has long run consequences for the distribution of power and for the rise of an entrepreneurial class.