Some of my more dedicated readers may remember that about a year ago I was working myself up into a fizz of anticipation, as I was invited to a conference in Brussels on 15 March 2013 at which the EU would talk about the Fourth Money Laundering Directive and the FATF about the revised Recommendations. I may have written one or two posts about it… At that conference, the rather magnificent Cecilia Malström, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner, announced that she was preparing the EU’s first major report into corruption across the union. She was honest enough to admit that the publication date was a bit fluid – hoping for end 2013 but rather suspecting Q1 2014 – and here it is! Yesterday the “EU Anti-Corruption Report” was published.
The cover is a bit disappointing – EU reports always look as though they’ve been produced on a 1960s mimeograph – but the content is helpful. The aim of the report (which will be updated every two years) is to “provide an analysis of corruption within the EU’s Member States and of the steps taken to prevent and fight it”. Cecilia herself (I feel I can call her Cecilia; after all, we smiled at each other across the EC-funded petits fours back in March) admitted that the scale of corruption in the EU is “breathtaking”, as you can see in this clip in the BBC’s report of the launch. Looking at it with a parochial eye: “In the case of the UK, only 5 persons out of 1,115 were expected to pay a bribe (less than 1%), showing the best result in all Europe; nevertheless, the perception data show that 64% of UK respondents think corruption is widespread in the country (the EU average is 74%).” I find this very thought-provoking, as it suggests that the topic under consideration is definitely bribery and corruption, not bribery’n’corruption, as so often happens. In other words, it seems that in the UK people can distinguish quite easily between bribery, and other sorts of corruption. Petit four, anyone?