June 15, 2021

Covid-19 has worsened corruption in the EU

Covid-19 has worsened corruption in the EU

According to survey results from Transparency International, Covid-19 has worsened corruption across countries in the EU with 29% of EU residents having used family or friends with connections to help them receive medical care. The anti-graft watchdog described health care as a “hotspot for corruption” in its Annual Corruption Barometer report and added that this is a “particular concern during the current COVID-19 pandemic, when citizens urgently need medical support and vaccinations.”

Deutsche Welle has reported that Transparency International surveyed over 40,000 people in 27 EU member states last year and established that 6% of people paid a bribe in order to receive health care. The highest bribery rates were observed in Romania (22%) and Bulgaria (19%) and countries such as the Czech Republic (54%) and Portugal (46%) that relied on personal connections the most. Many of those who responded believed that their governments were not handling the pandemic in a transparent way. Sixty percent of respondents or more from France, Poland, and Spain were particularly dissatisfied. “It's crucial that governments across the EU redouble their efforts to ensure a fair and equitable recovery from the ongoing pandemic,” the report emphasized.

The findings from the survey also showed that Hungary and Poland imposed measures to weaken democratic institutions and saw the pandemic as “an excuse to undermine democracy.” The watchdog, headquartered in Berlin, also found that a third of EU residents have observed that corruption as a whole is worsening in their country. Almost half of those surveyed have reported that their government is not handling graft well and were also concerned about close relationships between the governments and the private sector, and tax cuts. In Germany, in particular, one in four people have observed that corruption is worsening and over a third consider corruption within the federal German government to be an issue.

From a labor economics perspective, Friedrich Schneider has found that corruption is a driving force of emigration: “as corruption increases, so does the emigration rate for [highly-skilled and highly-educated workers].” In his article, he writes that: “reducing corruption is important for preventing brain drain by keeping highly-skilled and highly-educated workers at home, where they can contribute to economic growth, and encouraging highly-skilled workers from other countries to emigrate to the country.”

Find more content on Covid-19 and its impact here and read Friedrich Schneider’s article Does corruption promote emigration?