Corruption in procurement perceived as widespread across EU

Brown envelope cashAccording to the EU’s newly published Anti Corruption Report, around 15 percent UK firms believe that corruption has prevented them from winning a public contract at at least one point during the past three years. Although this rate compares favourably with an EU average of 32 percent, the report concludes that the total cost to the European economy of corruption is some €120 billion. The most commonly cited practices cited by the firms responding to the survey included specifications and procurement processes tailored for certain firms, conflicts of interest in bid evaluation and collusion between suppliers. Although under a fifth of UK businesses claim to have been directly affected, nearly half (46 percent) feel corruption is widespread compared to an EU average of 75 percent.

The report also found wide variances between sectors with construction, energy, transport, defence and healthcare procurement identified as the sectors where corruption is most prevalent.

The survey also examined attitudes to corruption amongst the general population. While 75 percent of respondents across the whole of the EU feel that corruption is widespread, in line with the results from businesses, 64 percent of cynical Brits feel that corruption is widespread even though the UK has the lowest proportion of individuals who had been asked for a bribe over the past year (1 percent). This compares markedly with Greece where nearly all businesses and individuals feel that corruption is widespread (99 per cent for both).

Launching the report, Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for home affairs, said: “Corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law. It hurts the European economy and deprives states from much-needed tax revenue. Member states have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s report shows that it is far from enough.”

The EU Anti-Corruption Report explains the situation in each Member State: what anti-corruption measures are in place, which ones are working well, what could be improved and how. The report claims to show that both the nature and level of corruption, and the effectiveness of measures taken to fight it, vary from one Member State to another. It also shows that corruption deserves greater attention in all Member States.