Budapest, Hungary – Transparency International just published its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), and paints a gloomy picture of the state of corruption in Central European countries.
Every year, the NGO calculates a score from the weighted average of several sub-indexes based on a number of surveys and assessments in 180 countries around the world. The scores range from 0 to 100: the higher the score, the lower the corruption. In this year’s ranking, both Hungary and Slovakia rank among the most corrupt countries in the EU.
Despite scoring one point higher than in last year’s index, Hungary dropped nine points over the last seven years in the Corruption Perceptions Index, the sharpest decline in Europe along with Malta. Ranked 64th worldwide, Hungary is the third most corrupt country in the EU, according to Transparency International. Only Bulgaria (77th worldwide) and Greece (67th) have lower scores.
In its annual report, Transparency International singles out Hungary and Poland, placed 36th worldwide, the best score in Central Europe, but losing three points in the last three years: “In both countries, democratic institutions and values are at risk, and the government continually interferes and challenges the independence of both the media and judicial system”, it writes. For more background on the state of corruption in Hungary, you can read the insightful article of Index.hu on the topic.
Among EU member states, Hungary is followed by Romania (61st worldwide) Croatia (60th) and Slovakia, ranking 57th worldwide and 6th most corrupt country in Europe.
With a score of only 50 out of 100, Slovakia reports its worst score since 2013 and loses three positions compared with the 2017 index. “Only 47 people were charged with criminal acts of corruption in 2018, which is the lowest figure since 2009 and half of the annual average of the charged between 2010 and 2014”, said Gabriel Sipos, head of Transparency International Slovakia, quoted by the Slovak Spectator. Last year, Slovakia was also rocked by the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, who was investigating cases of state corruption, and triggered the biggest mass protests the country has seen since 1991.
Both Hungary and Slovakia remain, however, less corrupt than other non-EU European countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, like Ukraine (120th), Albania (99th), Macedonia and Kosovo (both 93rd), Bosnia and Herzegovina (89th) and Serbia (87th).
With a score of 71 out of 100, the United States ranks 22nd and loses 4 points in a single year compared to the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Ranking 38th worldwide, the Czech Republic is considered “one of the key countries to watch moving forward” by Transparency International. But “despite an increase of two points since 2017 and eight points since 2014, the Czech Republic experienced a series of recent scandals that paint a different reality on the ground”, it writes, reminding that “Prime Minister Andrej Babis was found guilty of conflict of interest in relation to his media holdings”, and is under European investigation for alleged misuse of EU funds through his business ties to Agrofert.
Worldwide, the least corrupt country is Denmark. But “even top scoring countries like Denmark are not immune to corruption”, reminds Transparency International, reminding that “corruption still exists, as seen with recent scandals involving Danske Bank“. The Scandinavian country is followed by New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands and Canada. At the other end of the scope, the most corrupt countries in the world are Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Yemen and Afghanistan, according to the index.