corruptionThe German President, Christian Wulff, finds himself coming under mounting criticism for accepting a loan from the wife of a wealthy businessman; even members of the governing Christian Democratic Party are now asking for his resignation. Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s undersecretary, Carlo Malinconico, stepped down on Tuesday after a questions were raised about his connections with a businessman (a businessman who is himself currently being investigated on corruption charges). All of this comes after the chief of Switzerland’s central bank is forced to resign following revelations of a controversial currency trade. Does Europe have a problem with corruption?

Transparency International recently published their annual “Corruption Perceptions Index” report for 2011. In general, European countries appear as some of the least corrupt in the world. People in Western and Northern European countries (with the exception of Ireland and the Baltic states) feel their countries are slightly less corrupt than in 2010, whilst people in Southern and Eastern Europe feel their countries have grown slightly more corrupt since last year. What do YOU think? Are we seeing a problem of poor decision-making, or a problem of “morality” in European politics? And, if there is a problem, what’s the solution? Do we need to ask politicians and policy-makers for greater transparency? Let us know your thoughts on this subject, and we’ll take them to experts and policy-makers for some reactions.

8 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    Certainly is not just a case of poor decision making in my opinion. There are official protocols and avenues for any citizen for accessing credit/loans. A full independent investigation is required in this case and an automatic sacking, not resignation. It would appear that politicians live in a different world to us mere mortals, one rule for us and another for them.

    If the head of a government is behaving in this way, a loan from the wife of a…hmm, then what does that say for the system and all those within it?

    The EU will be of significant concern re corruption. NO ONE knows who the players are, billions are exchanging hands, to one scheme or another and who or what are the checks and balances, within the EU and between the EU and member nations and indeed internationally?

    It has been my observations, that where there is scope for corruption, corruption will occur.

    And scope for corruption is probably at the highest levels ever seen in human history. Geopolitics on a global scale is at or even beyond breaking point that given past practices, billions must be changing hands on a daily basis in the way of bribes, using all sorts of colourful names and methods.

    On face value, just by looking a bit iffy, The German President must be sacked and investigated. At the very least, people in these positions should be well aware of what such loans will look like, even if innocent of any impropriety. That should apply to all politicians.

    If the EU does not have independent and proactive internal police force like scrutineers in place, then that would say a lot about the system.

  2. avatar
    Paul Odtaa

    I think we’re moving into a world where large corporations and very wealthy individuals, eg fund managers and private equity investors, seem to have more and more control over the political agenda.

    We must work hard not to end up like America, where effectively the lobbyists control Washington as no politician there can win an election without millions of dollars for their campaign.

    In the UK the City of London and the financial sector control the current government and certainly had a great deal of influence on the Tony Blair government – so we have little control and huge bailouts from taxpayers when things go wrong.

    One of the good things about the EU is that it is having a some effect on corruption. The present crisis could be a positive event as it is forcing some politicians to grow up and face reality. And Europe-wide we may get better controls.

  3. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    The first thing to note about the article is that the Transparency International is a corruption perception index and therefore is only a measure of the perceived corruption of a government by a small number of the populous polled.

    Any perception of any of those polled can be immediately bias depending on any political alignment they have and their understanding of corruption itself.

    Secondly, simply because an incident occurs that is discovered rather than declared, it doesn’t automatically infer corruption. It infers a lack of transparency, possibly, depending upon whether it is a matter of public interest or whether it is simply interesting to the public. Those are two completely different things.

    I say this not in defense of the cases cited in the article as I am of the opinion that there needs to be an additional onus of transparency for publicly elected figures and public servants. They too have a right to a private life under Article 8 just as any of us do.

    The press also have a right to report what they discover under Article 10.

    The question of transparency verses privacy when Article 8 v Article 10 collide has no one size fits all answer.

    Society has become accustomed to its political leaders using all the wiggle room any law allows for their own self-serving purposes as well as carefully worded, often mealymouthed, statements, leaving enough ambiguity to shift a little either way depending of the prevailing wind of public opinion.

    “We” now automatically default to the worst possible beliefs about our leaders such is the disenfranchisement of society with politics and politicians at any given opportunity.

    Maybe we are right to do so. Those in power must always be held accountable and consider their actions carefully. Power and actions of the powerful must always be justified and legitimized rather than imposed without question during any tenure in any office.

    The question in some inferred corruption is one of transparency and not nefariousness. In other cases it is purely nefarious and necessarily exposed.

    In some cases where no illegal actions have taken place but it still seems wrong, we need to ask ourselves what, if anything, was gained by those involved. Are there strings, visible or invisible attached to any action and what are the repercussions.

    Is it bribery, is it crony-ism, is it a lobbying lever? One man’s lobbying is another man’s advocacy depending upon the level of transparency involved.

    There is a gray area that will never satisfactorily be overcome.

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Wherever there is too much money to be made or handled, and especially if it is easy and quick, there will be corruption..It is in human nature and no country or nation can get rid of it…It is not in a nation’s DNA or culture, rather historical and political circumstances have created better conditions in some countries, organizations, regions or ethnic groups to be more prone to it…The more violent and unstable a country’s history ( therefor richer historic back ground) the deeper corruption will root. Just because people when faced with poverty and deprivation are forced to drop their morals..When this goes on for generations, this becomes part of their every day lives and eventually heritage..

    But also when you do not have all the above, like in the case of Switzerland, when you have so much money at your grasp and a society that has had it easy for too long, everyone is more or less absorb and settled with their prosperity, they drop their some are finding hard to resist doing the dirty work! “When you put your finger in a jar of honey, it is hard not to lick it”, there is a saying in Greece!

    So perhaps a “cure” for corruption (it will never be totally eradicated as it is in human nature, but at least try to limit it..somewhat) in my opinion would be a) stability peace education and growth b) prevent the accumulation of too much power and money in one country, institution, group of people, profession etc..

    and yes, we do have a corruption problem in Europe..we always had…we had the most wars in the history of this world, more than any other continent or region, and most of them were preventable…it was just greed and power mongering…another element of corruption in a society…

  5. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    There is also a ‘suggestion’ by some international economic experts/spokespersons that $trillions of US taxpayers money, via private US/EU central banks , has made its way into the European system. Along with these ‘suggestions’, there is some credibility in a scenario that the EU, as a payback, furthers the interests of these US/EU private bankers on this side of the Atlantic, with military aggression, (Afghan, Libya etc) and destabilization, (Syria, Iran etc). All the evidence suggests as one possible/probable scenario, is that we are in the grip of a massive mafia style economic dictatorship and corruption on a scale unheard of in human history. If correct, any outcome can only end in a dramatic and traumatic upheaval on a global scale.

  6. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    The problem of Europe is political before anything else. Corruption is an issue of course but trying to solve it before dealing with the base of the system, ie political structure is waste of time. Of course we can learn a lot from various international guilds and religious and army organizations but keep in mind that we need Democracy. Democracy is a very important word and its meaning has nothing to do with what is happening today. One of the thing that we have to keep in mind is that “our freedom ends where the other’s start”. Philosophy? I do not think so, I think is common sense.

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