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.

The Transparency Paradox: Why do Corrupt Countries Join EITI?

Rules that require actors to make their finances transparent have become a key part of the anti-corruption toolkit, under the assumption that sunlight is the best disinfectant.  This logic underpinned the creation, in 2002, of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international club aimed at reducing corruption in oil, gas and mining.  The initiative has proved popular, with 16 countries now EITI compliant and 23 others having achieved candidate status.  However, as a soft law standard to which countries voluntarily commit, EITI presents a paradox: why would corrupt governments voluntarily expose themselves to sunlight?  Does its popularity imply that it is meaningless?  The authors argue that governments join because they are concerned about their reputation with international donors and expect to be rewarded by increased aid. David-Barrett and Okamura’s quantitative analysis demonstrates that countries do gain access to increased aid the further they progress through the EITI implementation process.  However, they also find that EITI achieves real results in terms of reducing corruption.  The authors suggest that this is because EITI requires countries to build multi-stakeholder institutions which improve accountability, and provide qualitative evidence about how this has worked in several countries.

Bottom of the Heap. The Case of Romania

The suspension of EU payments in four operational programmes in 2012 showed how problematic Romania’s correct and effective management of EU funds is. Such funds aim primarily at decreasing the socio-economic disparities among EU members and support the economic convergence with their Western counterparts of less developed new EU members. Consequently, a poor absorption rate of EU funds threatens income convergence between old and new member countries, thus representing a major challenge for EU integration. Currently, Romania has the poorest absorption rate among all the EU Member States and the worst among the ten new Member States. Moreover, the financial corrections, which amount to roughly 22% of the assimilated European funds, further reduce the real absorption rate, a loss which can be attributed entirely to corruption and mismanagement. The present report investigates the proportion of EU funds which can reasonably be considered at risk because of mismanagement and corruption, asks what are the main defrauding tactics used at national level to obtain European money illicitly, and considers the extent to which the suspension or cancellation of EU assistance might be the best policy for dealing with the situation. In addition, the report will put forward a list of recommendations for the next EU programming period which are intended to mitigate the effects of corruption and mismanagement that result in a waste of public resources.

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.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Controlling Corruption in the European Union

For many years corruption was seen as a problem only of developing countries, while the European Union (EU) on the contrary was the temple of the rule of law, exporting good governance both to its own peripheries and worldwide. Many European countries indeed remain among the best governed in the world, although the downfall of the Santer Commission on charges of corruption, the enlargement of the EU by its incorporation of new member countries with unfinished transitions, and the economic crisis all strongly indicate that control of corruption is difficult to build and hard to sustain. Older member countries Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have all regressed rather than progressed since they joined – the first two of them to worrying levels – and that has raised doubts about the EU’s transformative effect on its members.

FOIA as an Anti-Corruption Tool

This paper tests, explores and exemplifies the role of freedom of information legislation as an anti-corruption tool. In the first part, its tests freedom of information separately and in comparison with other more popular anti-corruption tools, such as an anti-corruption agency. In the second part, it proposes a more elaborated model explaining control of corruption and argues that transparency legislation is intermediated by the existence of civil society and does not work in its absence. In its last and final part it exemplifies with a project in Romania how freedom of information can be used as an integrity building tool.

Corruption and Politics in Uruguay

Transparency scores in Uruguay have improved in the last fifteen years in both absolute and comparative terms. This paper argues that this change is the result of a long-run process of transformation in Uruguayan politics from competitive particularism to an open access regime. First, this paper briefly reviews the political and institutional changes that led governance in Uruguay to be based on universalistic norms. Next, it uses public opinion and elite survey data to provide descriptive evidence about citizen perceptions of levels of corruption. Third, the paper uses media data to explore the place that corruption held in the public agenda during the last fifteen years. Finally, using court records, it evaluates the efficacy of existing structures to punish abuses. These analyses help to clarify the main features that lie behind the categorization of Uruguay as a contemporary achiever in terms of government transparency.

The Long Transition to Good Governance: the Case of Estonia. Looking at the changes in the governance regime and anti-corruption policy

This paper deals with the post-communist positive outlier Estonia, which made according to international comparisons perhaps the most spectacular progress in the world, from a totalitarian regime to a quality democracy in less than twenty years. The country has seen improvement in all four dimensions of control of corruption described in the equilibrium model of Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (2011) since the restoration of its independence in 1991. The changes in the different dimensions happened almost simultaneously. During the first government of Mart Laar (1992-1995), policies that reduced material resources and strengthened legal constraints were implemented. Estonia pioneered important liberal reforms, for instance the adoption of a flat tax which then became very trendy in Eastern Europe and a very advanced e-government inspired from the neighbouring Finland. It also had the most radical policy towards Soviet time judiciary, replacing most of it and restarting practically all over with new magistrates. Normative constraints are also high, with a public opinion intolerant of particularism, an active civil society and a free press. The paper tries to explain why Estonian elites succeeded in promoting good governance and anti-corruption measures more than most other Central and Eastern European countries. In addition, author is looking for integrative understanding how to improve the control of political and administrative corruption mechanisms via the better regulation measures (e.g. impact assessment, participation, simplification) and support of political motivation.

Corruption: A Modern Day Hydra. Understanding the monster through the eyes of the people.

The present paper considers corruption to be a deeply complex phenomenon that should be broken down to its essential components in order to develop a deeper understanding of it. Therefore, in this study, corruption shall be broken down into three categories which are namely judicial, bureaucratic and political corruption. These three forms of corruption are “same but different” as even though they all entail the deviation of norms, the scale and effects they have on the society are in fact very different. This paper shall seek to fill the gap by examining and identifying the drivers of corruption through the lens of the general public by using data obtained from TI’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB). In addition, this study shall also seek to prove that people’s perception of corruption offer valuable insights and should thus be used to triangulate with expert’s opinions to derive a more robust and holistic measure of corruption.

Contextual Choices in Fighting Corruption: Lessons Learned

Why is it that despite unprecedented investment in anti-corruption in the last fifteen years and the implementation of global monitoring and legislation, so few countries managed to register progress in fighting corruption? This new report commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) to the Hertie School of Governance aims to see what could be learnt from weaknesses in current support to fighting corruption at country level and identify approaches that can be more effective in fighting corruption in different governance contexts.

The report revealed that conceptual flaws, imprecise measurement instruments and inadequate strategies are to blame for the lack of progress in fighting corruption. But it also argues that the quest for public integrity is a political one, between predatory elites in a society and its losers and fought primarily on domestic playgrounds. As such, the donor community can play only a limited part and it needs to play this part strategically in order to create results. Based on new statistical evidence, the report recommends cash-on-delivery/selectivity approaches for anti-corruption assistance. Effective and sustainable policies for good governance need to diminish the political and material resources of corruption and build normative constraints in the form of domestic collective action. Most of the current anti-corruption strategies, on the contrary, focus on increasing legal constraints, which often fail because most interventions are localized in societies that lack the rule of law.

Changing the Rule of the Game: a Diagnosis of Corruption in Brazil

In Brazil, corruption has always been part of political discussions, but changes in government hardly ever brought changes in the political and social structures. The great economic development of recent years might end up covering some of the problems. Therefore, it is fundamental to investigate whether in Brazil corruption is the norm or the exception, as well as to understand the main corruption mechanisms in order to design proper policies to tackle its most harmful forms so that the country can finally evolve towards good governance and impartial government.

Political Economy Analysis of Corruption in Ghana

Ghana on one hand, since its return to democratic rule in 1993, has experienced a continuous growth in consolidating its democracy, leading it to be one of the most referred to success stories of democracy in Africa. On the other hand, corruption continues to be a problem in spite of the several proclaimed measures by governments to curb it. This paper hence seeks to explore the question: has Ghana evolved on the control of corruption? If not, why and what can be done?

Control of Corruption: the Road to Effective Improvement. Lessons from Six Progress Cases

In the last two decades, the emergence of an international good governance agenda has fostered the implementation of anti-corruption efforts in several countries. Nevertheless, recent assessments of those efforts reveal that the vast majority of initiatives have not produced concrete positive results. Only a few countries have made considerable progress in reducing corruption, and there is still limited knowledge about what has determined their positive experiences. This paper attempts to contribute to this discussion by engaging in a comparative analysis of six countries that have improved in terms of control of corruption. These countries are: Uruguay, Estonia, Botswana, Taiwan, South Korea and Ghana. The framework for analysis is based on a model of corruption as a function of power discretion, material resources and legal and normative constraints (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2010). Additionally, particular attention is paid to the role of political agents as drivers of change, with a focus on political leaders, civil society, media and enforcement institutions.

Beyond Good Governance: Performance of the International Anticorruption Institutional Arsenal Put to the Test

With political corruption posing a serious threat to democracy and its consolidation, anticorruption efforts have in recent years shifted from a reduced reliance on political tools to an increased support of the legislative and institutional means. The present thesis, using quantitative cross-sectional models, analyzes the performance of four, highly advocated, institutional transplants. Results suggest that an installment of the Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) can, in the presence of an active civil society and attentive opposition to the governing structures, significantly decrease levels of corruption in a country.

Aid Selectivity and Anti-Corruption Policy: a Case Study of the Millenium Challenge Corporation

This paper argues that corruption control is the most fundamental component of the good governance agenda, since it subverts all the other values of good governance. It is both cause and effect of inefficient and unaccountable institutions. In developing countries, were resources are scarcer and need to be used in the most effective manner, corruption is especially harmful. In an effort to clarify how this move to a more selective, performance based approach can have an influence in the control of corruption of developing countries and therefore serve as model for other donors to follow, this paper will first discuss the concepts of good governance, development, corruption and review its empirical links to aid effectiveness. It will also show the benefits and limitations of measuring governance and corruption and argue for the development of more broad assessments methods.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of El Salvador

El Salvador has changed much in the last 20 years. It has managed to move from a previous military regime and a civil war to a democracy, but this process is still in progress. The country must yet face a number of weaknesses to continue its transition to good governance, particularly regarding the development of an active civil society, a free and impartial press and lower levels of corruption. Assistance from foreign donors will be an important support to future improvements, especially concerning the strengthening of civil society and institutional capacity building to fight corruption more effectively.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of Albania

Albania’s progress of development has been hindered by the high rates of corruption. World Bank’s Control of Corruption measurement of 2008 placed Albania in the 25-50 percentile rank and Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the same year was 3,2 placing Albania 85th out of 180 countries ranked.  In comparison to its neighbors since 2002 Albania is doing the worst it terms of control of corruption. Albania was doing quite well in 1996 after which it experienced a huge decrease in control of corruption and even though over the years steady positive progress has been made, it hasn’t recovered to the same level yet.

Political Economy Analysis of Control of Corruption in Chile

The analysis of the World Governance Indicator Control of Corruption and Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that Chile has always been a clean country, but one cannot tell how control of corruption developed. In order to understand control of corruption in Chile, one must look at the transition to democracy period, and also at Chile’s history, analyzing the institutions, power distribution, and the rules of the game since the first democratic period until nowadays in order to understand why control of corruption in Chile has always been higher than in other Latin American countries.

Uruguay: a Case of Success in Latin America

According to the World Governance Indicators, there has been an improvement in control of corruption in Uruguay between 1998 and 2008. This political economy analysis will try to explain why. Corruption is a big problem in almost all Latin American countries. What makes Uruguay different?

The Republic of Indonesia: Between a Gecko and a Crocodile

Although corruption continues to be a severe problem in Indonesia, indicators show that Indonesia has greatly improved at curbing corruption over the past decade – more so, in fact, than any other country in all of Asia. Clearly, something remarkable is going on in the country. This paper will focus on the evolution of corruption in the Republic of Indonesia, exploring what factors, including policy indicators, have had the greatest impact in curbing corruption in the country.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of Tanzania

This report gives a snapshot of the state of corruption in Tanzania between the years 1998 and 2008. Strong presidents, who have endorsed the fight against corruption, as one of their main presidential goals have been the main drivers of change in Tanzania’s fight against corruption. However, there are many shortcomings that are eminent in Tanzania’s endeavour to fight corruption. Enforcement remains limited and capacity, staff, and resources are lagging. Nonetheless, change in the control of corruption is perceived and real. There are different indicators, one of them being that even “the big fish” have been discharged from major political offices. In 2008, a corruption scandal led to the resignation of the prime minister. These revelations and actual changes demonstrate that corruption is becoming an act that is not tolerated by the population and therefore business – in this case being corruption – cannot be carried out “as usual”.

Transitions to Good Governance: the Case of South Korea

This paper traces the development of corruption and pluralism in South Korea all the way back to independence in 1945. It distinguishes and describes three kinds of transition, namely from the simple agrarian society governed by landlords to a complex industrial one, from the authoritarian rule of Park and Chu to democracy, and the overarching transition to good governance. The study finds progress towards the goal of good governance in the land reform of the 1950s, in the establishment of a meritocratic and effective bureaucracy during the 60s and 70s, through the creation of an autonomous and well-educated middle class till the 80s, and finally the fight against the market domination by the Chaebols following the Asian crisis of 1997. Differing from the general literature on anti-corruption but in line with recent developments in the economics literature the fight for an autonomous state in Korea seems to depend on successful regulation of markets.

Beyond Perception: Has Romania’s Governance Improved since 2004?

Romania and Bulgaria encounter today problems in joining the visa-free Schengen area. The main one in the public eye is corruption. Both countries pledged to improve their rule of law when signing their accession treaties in 2005, yet little progress is perceived by observers or captured with governance measurements relying on perception, such as CPI and World Bank Governance indicators. This paper explores real policy, with fact-based indicators, to trace progress in the area – or lack of it – since 2004 to the present.

The European Neighbourhood Policy – a Reality Check

This paper analyses the impact of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) on good governance in the partner states. The findings of this paper suggest that the influence of the European Neighbourhood Policy in triggering governance reforms has been limited. Since the formal launch of the policy in 2004, both quantitative and qualitative assessments show that improvements have been absent in most of the partner states. Moreover, it is shown that in those states showing signs of progress, domestic rather than EU influence has been the main driving force behind reforms. The paper suggests that incentive structures, monitoring and the involvement of civil society are the most pressing issues that need reconsideration to increase the effectiveness of the European Neighbourhood Policy in promoting governance reforms.

The Experience of Civil Society as an Anti-Corruption Actor in East Central Europe

Why, despite their most remarkable progress on democracy, have most East Central European states retained modest levels of governance? Is civil society still able to play any significant role in improving governance, even after its institutionalization at low levels of participation, after its initial high mobilization in the early years of democratization? Does the impact, or lack of impact, of civil society do anything to explain the quality of governance? This paper addresses all these issues and more.