The European Union said corruption is costing the EU economy at least 120 billion euros annually. In a BBC report, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the extent of the problem was “breathtaking,” with the cost roughly equivalent to the bloc’s annual budget. The Commission studied corruption in all 28 EU member states, the first time it has done such a survey. In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, between 6% and 29% of respondents said they had been asked for a bribe, or had been expected to pay one, in the past 12 months. There were also high levels of bribery in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, where the most prevalent instances were in healthcare. The best results were from the UK, where only five people out of 1,115 – less than 1% – said they had been expected to pay a bribe. The BBC quoted Malmstroem saying corruption was eroding trust in democracy and draining resources from the legal economy. The report had its share of controversy, as some countries criticized the European Commission for interfering in areas which they believed were none of its business.
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