Corruption considered major problem in Europe

About 75% of Europeans believe that corruption is a major problem in their country, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission here on Wednesday.

Almost half of the respondents think that the level of corruption in the country has risen over the past three years, according to the survey conducted in all 27 member states of the European Union (EU).

About three-quarters of Europeans believe that corruption exists within institutions at local, regional and national levels, while two-thirds of respondents believe that corruption is part of their country's business culture, it shows.

The survey also reveals that about 8% of the respondents said they had been asked or expected to pay a bribe in the past year.

Corruption is a disease that destroys a country from within, undermining trust in democratic institutions, weakening the accountability of political leadership and playing into the hands of organized crime groups, Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's commissioner for home affairs, said Wednesday.

The economic costs incurred by corruption in the EU have been estimated at 120-B Euros (about US$157-B) each year.

Last year, the commission adopted an anti-corruption package urging a stronger focus on corruption in all relevant EU policies. It is scheduled to publish its first EU anti-corruption report next year.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.