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Countries worst hit by European crisis are most corrupt, NGO says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Does one really reap what one sows? According to non-governmental agency Transparency International, that's apparently so. Greece has scored the worst ranking of all 27 European Union nations in a calculation of perceived official corruption. Greece is among the hardest hit by the ongoing economic crisis, along with Spain, Portugal and Italy.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a new report this week, Transparency international says that the general perception of these struggling European nations have grown increasingly negative as well. There is widespread anger over governmental graft, as many citizens in these nations struggle to pay their bills. 

The index from Transparency International measures the perception of corruption in the public sector and not the financial sector. According to the group's Europe director, Anne Koch the results clearly indicate that people in the countries worst hit by the crisis perceive corruption to be widespread.

"these four countries has been reflected in the figures," she told the Associated Press.

On a scale of 0, which means "highly corrupt" and 100 is "very clean," two-thirds of the 176 countries ranked scored below 50. The group says that this indicates a widespread need for more openness in public institutions and more accountability for officials.

"Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making," Transparency International head Huguette Labelle says.

"Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people."

First conducted in 1995, the survey draws on a wide variety of sources that capture perceptions of corruption. These include World Bank and World Economic Forum assessments, the African Development Bank's governance ratings and Transparency International's own Bribe Payers Survey.

How did the nations of the world rank in the survey? Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia were ranked the worst overall on this year's list, all tied with a rating of just eight. Denmark, Finland and New Zealand were thought of as least corrupt with scores of 90.

Canada scored 84, Germany 79 and Japan and Britain tied at 74. The United States was rated 73, giving it 19th place, and France scored 71.

Greece scored a 36, Italy 42, Portugal 63 and Spain 65 at the bottom of western European nations. All four countries are mired in recession, and both Portugal and Greece have received EU bailouts.

Koch adds that if the new 2012 methodology is applied to the 2011 results, Greece fell by 14 places.

"Greece, of course, at place 94 is the lowest state in the European Union," she said. "It's ranked lower than countries like Colombia, Benin and Zambia ... which gives you pause for thought."

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