19 Jun 2024

Preserving the integrity of corruption measurement

You may say it’s a joke, but it’s not. Why, in recent years, do we have such a congestion of corruption measurements, especially among international organizations? For many years, only the World Bank and Transparency International did that and led the field by similar, limited but transparent methods: aggregating all expert scores or organizing public […]
31 Jan 2024

What do corruption perception indexes tell us?

As it does every year, the release of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from Transparency International is making headlines. And rightly so. There is no better occasion for the political opposition and the critical media to rally against the government—that is, in countries blessed to enjoy a free press and a political opposition, which are […]
14 Dec 2023

How will corruption evolve in 2024?

Every year on December 9 the world celebrates International Anticorruption Day. This is the annual moment to review the state of global corruption, as well as the best opportunity to reflect on the poverty of our review tools. It has always been a challenge to measure corruption, but to measure corruption across time is the ultimate challenge. Another year of struggle against corruption is coming to a pass. Are we nearer to the target? Has any country graduated to good governance, in the ‘green’ area of the upper third of the global ranking? Has any country already in that area experienced some backsliding? Are some countries closer to reaping the benefits of many years of reforms or, on the contrary, does the world risk losing more countries to state capture?
19 Jun 2023

Transparency in the Time of War – a Survey for 143 countries

The new 2023 report covers 143 countries and a very different world from the pilot project we ran in 2021, as global trends of democracy backsliding and violence have become all too visible. And still, the public good of transparency is still there and citizens still need to hold their governments accountable even during wartime. Removing countries engaged in war from the T-index would be an artificial way to show the world better than it is: we do not aim for that and although we considered this option, we eliminated it in the end. As war, in one form or another, has become a part of the lives of more countries than the ones directly engaged in it in 2023, we will also show the performance of countries under war in this report, with the clear understanding that causes might be beyond their control. Beyond the loss of life and infrastructure, war destroys transparency built by many governments, sometimes even generations, and its consequences need to be seen as well.
18 Oct 2022

For a clean and sustainable reconstruction of Ukraine

We need to collect needs based on multiple sources, involve civil society from planning to audit, set targets for both the public procurement process and outcomes and tie them to the performance evaluation of a newly trained generation of public managers in charge of allocating and managing reconstruction funds. Nothing creates more opportunities for corruption than war. But a war where foreign money pours in is bound to multiply exponentially such opportunities, especially in an already enabling environment. This short text presents five clear issues that the reconstruction has to grapple with and indicates the type of solutions. This is not a detailed report, but simply a statement of principles needed for a sound reconstruction.
01 Apr 2022

Counting the Dead Transparently

The new transparency index (T-index) shows that the official pandemic fatality figure is deeply flawed in many countries, starting with Russia Once a war starts, propaganda becomes a chief weapon, so it is impossible to know the number of casualties from only one source. But even before the Russian-Ukrainian war, in the fight against the […]
19 Dec 2021

New 2021 IPI data shows Moldova and Argentina among the few achievers

2021 was a banal year in terms of developments, far from the landmark year for anti-corruption expected by some (civil society should know by now that it’s not international summits which change countries, be they UN or whatever, as the magic revolutions from outside just do not work). But it was not a banal year in terms of corruption indicators. The exposure of pressures on the otherwise very useful and influential Doing Business of the World Bank opened the door to the shadow reality of gaming and pressuring around governance indicators, which does not affect the World Bank alone (at least, judging by the performance on Judicial Independence in the World Economic Forum survey of the same problematic countries). But as the saying goes, what does not kill you makes you stronger...
21 Sep 2021

The Doing Business Gate: Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater

It’s been quite a few years now that I have been teaching hundreds of students on the limitations of governance indicators, especially the ‘big data’ ones. As someone who was educated first as a scientist and only later as a social scientist, I have never quite felt comfortable with data that I did not collect […]
15 Jun 2021

European public accountability trends now updated!

The European Union is the absolute achiever on standards and benchmarks. Thousands exist and are strictly guarded by various enforcement agencies: some inspired anecdotes and were furiously disputed over the Brexit divorce. Less spoken about are EU standards on public accountability, despite having now a Rule of Law (ROL) Report on the member states and monitoring processes for accession countries. There is a very simple reason for this: they do not exist as such. While we uphold a Europe of rule of law and free of corruption as ideals for member states and aspiring countries, we do not actually have a standard way of achieving those, or clear European benchmarks. Finland and Denmark are quite unregulated on public accountability but extraordinarily transparent, and they lead in all good governance charts. Hungary and Poland have been backsliding on both rule of law and democracy but their legal arrangements are quite thick. In some areas, at least.
29 Mar 2021

Real versus Legal: A Tale of Two Transparencies

Although nobody has ever argued that transparency is a panacea for corruption, the international anti-corruption movement has long invested in transparency with the goal to deter corruption. Seeing the explosive development of transparency in many forms one would expect that control of corruption improves. Still, as discussed at length in this working paper of ours, control of corruption lags with nearly no significant progress since the advances made by Georgia, South Korea, or Costa Rica nearly two decades ago. So which one is it? Transparency is not enough or there is not enough transparency to deter corruption? An answer to these questions has been seriously hindered so far by lack of data. We do not have a measurement of transparency, although various types of it do get measured (e.g. fiscal transparency). We do have some proxies and indirect measurements for corruption. Now presuming we can measure both at the national level we can start having some answers.
09 Feb 2021

EU Rule of Law Report Captive on its Tracks

The European Commission is already planning a second rule of law report, although the first brought no further evidence to the already known problems of Hungary or Poland, and only showed the weakness of conceptualization and methodology at this stage. The German presidency made the concession to Hungary and Poland that Courts will have the first say in the event of a sanction. While critics were fast to denounce Merkel to have yielded to the populists, the most elementary legal common sense shows that Courts would have anyway got involved. Is it not better, then, to have them involved sooner rather than later? If we want to cut EU funds, we need to use the public procurement policy and its very good monitoring by another part of the Commission (in the EU Single Market PP Scoreboard). Member states who do not reach targets there are the same who infringe on rule of law: Hungary, Poland, Romania, Malta, Czech Republic.
14 Oct 2020

The EU Rule of Law Report: Unresolved Questions and a Proposal

The EU has chastised member states who do not adhere to its professed values. However, the new report about the rule of law falls short in providing the objective basis to withhold funding to those who defy democracy, a just goal still lacking the proper means. EU funds should be cut on direct and easier to prove criteria related to their poor governance, as shown in the EU Single Market procurement scoreboard. Recovery funds should not go to the political clienteles of government parties trespassing on rule of law, but to the broader constituencies of citizens and businesses in every member state. -- This article is a version of a comment published under Carnegie's Reshaping European Democracy project --
04 Aug 2020

Will the current crisis enable better governance, or hinder it?

The forecast of good governance on this page, the first one ever of its kind, has come out at the very beginnings of an unprecedented destabilizing crisis for this century. It is fair to ask oneself therefore how the prognoses here will be affected. The first amendment to the forecast is that the more political violence grows, the less positive predictions come true and more countries come under threat of losing what they have acquired, the good governance fundamentals: freedom of thought, equality before the law and the capacity to mediate between different interests through debate and limited terms popularly elected office. The second amendment refers to the important role of technology. Research has shown that social media algorithms promote aggressivity online because it sells more advertising. While we are very proud to live in an era on unprecedented technological development we see daily that this does little to deter people from endorsing identity politics, and the resulting collectivism and intergroup conflict.
20 May 2020

Predicting Governance Evolutions.

Why is there so little evolution in governance, and the trend lines across continents and income groups have looked so depressively flat for the past 20 years? Well, because indicators are poor, some would say, as governance indicators are statistical aggregates which normalize individual components that they throw into an index- and therefore what little […]
16 Apr 2020

The Good Governance of the Corona Crisis

The years since 1989, the previous threshold crossed by the contemporary world have seen unprecedented stress on good governance, with the adoption of international conventions and treaties, disclosures like Panama Papers and spectacular enforcement of the older American Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. But during this interval the world largely stagnated on the quality of governance. […]
23 Aug 2016

Budget transparency – more complex than you’d think

When talking anti-corruption, the most common buzzwords flung around by civil society activists, researchers and development professionals alike are transparency and accountability. Transparency is seen as so key to the fight against corruption that its arguably most important advocate took it as part of its name: Transparency International. It should thus not come as a […]
25 Jul 2016

EU Aid to Turkey – Money well spent?

In the ten-year period between 2005 and 2014 alone, EU institutions sent the equivalent of 13.7 billion dollars in aid payments to Turkey. 1.5 billion dollars were directy aimed at improving government and civil society institutions. In the light of the continuing campaign to undermine democratic institutions we have to ask the question if this is money well spent or if it is time for a rethink in EU-Turkey relations.
25 Jul 2016

So far, democracy has not won in Turkey

Europeans were quick to defend Turkey’s constitutional order after the abortive coup, writes Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, but have done little to combat President Erdogan’s own subversion of this order.
15 Jun 2016

Evidence on Anti-Corruption: From Research to Policy-Making

Building the evidence-base for anti-corruption reforms means to not only research the issues, but make sure they have an impact on plicy as well. For our team the months of April and May thus meant a lot of travelling. They presented our research at several high-profile events, including the OCED, Bruegel, the EU and others. Read about some of the events that they attended.
13 May 2016

Can we really speak about corrupt countries?

Corruption researcher Alina Mungiu-Pippidi challenges the politically correct view of Cameron’s anti-corruption summit
04 May 2016

ANTICORRP Launches New Index of Public Integrity

The Index of Public Integrity (IPI) offers the first objective measurement of integrity.
05 Apr 2016

ERCAS Congratulates Martin Mendelski

ERCAS congratulates Dr. Martin Mendelski, a member of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project and affiliate of ERCAS partner Romanian Academic Society (SAR): He was awarded the “THESEUS Award for Promising Research on European Integration” for his PhD thesis entitled “The Limits of the European Union’s Transformative Power: Pathologies of Europeanization and Rule of Law Reform […]
25 Feb 2016

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi Launches “The Quest for Good Governance”

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi launched her book “The Quest for Good Governance: How Societies Develop Control of Corruption” at the Hertie School of Governance last week. She was joined by a distinguished panel of speakers to discuss her work: Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Berlin Social Science Centre (WZB)), Finn Heinrich (Transparency International) and Janine R. Wedel (George Mason […]
28 Jan 2016

Corruption Perception: how can we improve corruption measurements?

Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is still the flagship publication of the growing anti-corruption community. While it plays a pivotal role in raising public awareness of the magnitude and the spread of corruption, we have to look beyond the CPI to construct indices using objective data on corruption. Researchers at ERCAS are working on such tools that are meant to inform the policy community on how to prevent corruption effectively.
21 Jan 2016

Levels of Public Integrity Show Multi-speed Europe

A New ranking of public integrity in the European Union Member States shows Finland leading and Bulgaria lagging behind.