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In June 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication on Fighting Corruption in the EU, establishing the EU Anti-Corruption Report to monitor and assess Member States' efforts in this area with a view to developing a stronger political engagement to address corruption effectively. Corruption is defined in the report in a broad sense as "any abuse of power for private gain".
The EU Anti-Corruption report – COM (2014)38 final - was published for the first time in February 2014; further reports will be issued every two years. This first report aims to launch a debate involving the Commission, Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders to assist the anti-corruption work and identify ways in which the European dimension can help. Two Eurobarometer surveys were carried out in preparation of the EU Anti-corruption Report in early 2013 and published in February 2014: the 1) Special Barometer and 2) a business-focused ""Flash survey". For most countries, the ranking of the CPI (the Corruption Perception Index published every year by Transparency International) tends to correspond to answers given by the Eurobarometer respondents.
The Special Eurobarometer shows that 76% of EU citizens (three quarters of respondents) think that corruption is widespread in their own country. More than half of Europeans (56%) think the level of corruption has increased over the past three years.
The business-focused Flash survey shows that more than four out of 10 companies consider corruption to be a problem for doing business, and this is true for patronage and nepotism too. When asked specifically whether corruption is a problem for doing business, 50% of the construction sector and 33% of the telecoms/IT companies felt it was a problem to a serious extent. In several Member States, state-owned companies and public-sector companies appeared particularly vulnerable. More than three out of 10 companies (32%) in the Member States that participated in public procurement say corruption prevented them from winning a contract. More than half of all companies say that corruption in public procurement managed by national (56%) or regional/local authorities (60%) is widespread. Conflict of interest, unfair practices, non-competitive procedures and barriers to free trade thus constitute additional costs for business because of corruption in the public sector or state-owned companies identified as vulnerable.
The objective of the present own-initiative opinion is to stimulate a much needed discussion on corruption problems encountered when doing business, to promote transparency and exchange of information among all stakeholders and consumer citizens. By highlighting problems – as well as good practices found inside the EU –the EESC wants to promote high anti-corruption standards within and outside the EU as well as to present recommendations about what should be done to meet business and civil concerns on how to tackle corruption. The analysis will focus on some sectors which seem particularly vulnerable to corruption according to the EU Anti-Corruption Report and therefore call for targeted responses: urban development and construction, healthcare and tax administration.