08 Feb 2011

Crime Without Punishment January 2009

The most recent Corruption Assessment Report of the Center for the Study of Democracy, entitled Crime without Punishment: Countering Corruption and Organized Crime in Bulgaria provides an overview of the state and dynamics of corruption in Bulgaria, as well as of Bulgarian anti-corruption policies and initiatives during the first two years of Bulgaria’s EU membership.

Political corruption and organized crime still remain largely crimes without punishment even after Bulgaria’s accession to the EU. Notwithstanding economic growth and past progress in its anti-corruption reforms, Bulgaria still displays two major deficits for countering corruption and organized crime: namely, of political will and of administrative capacity.

This year’s report explores the aspects and sources of political corruption in Bulgaria, including an alarming new trend: civil society capture. The report tracks the dynamics of the hidden economy in the country and the main channels for corrupt interactions between business and politics: public procurement, concessions and land/forest swaps.

The Corruption Monitoring System of the Center for the Study of Democracy has registered a stable trend of rising incidence of corruption transactions, reverting to the levels of eight years ago. In 2008, the average monthly number of corruption transactions in which Bulgarian citizens were involved reached approximately 175 000, or 2 100 000 transactions for the year. Bulgarians perceive corruption as the most serious problem the country is facing.

Despite setbacks in anticorruption efforts during the 2007 – 2008 period, some positive developments must be emphasised as they can provide a good foundation for resuming anticorruption reforms in the country. Administrative corruption experienced by Bulgarian businesses decreased by 50% following the country’s entry into the EU. The positive role of this can be attributed to the continuous gradual reduction in the share of the hidden economy and its versatile manifestations.

With acknowledgements to the Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia, Bulgaria