Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Corruption still reigns in the Mediterranean, says Transparency International

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, January 25th 2022 à 16:45 | Read 382 times

Corruption takes many forms (illustration: Amy Chiniara-Transparency International)
Corruption takes many forms (illustration: Amy Chiniara-Transparency International)
MEDITERRANEAN. As it has done every year since 1995, Transparency International has published its Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Its 2021 edition, published on Tuesday 25 January 2022, shows that Covid-19 has provided a pretext in many countries to restrict fundamental freedoms and bypass important control mechanisms. "In authoritarian contexts where control is in the hands of a few, social movements are the last check on power. It is the collective power held by ordinary people from all walks of life that will ultimately lead to accountability," said Daniel Eriksson, Executive Director of the Transparency International Secretariat.

Noting that "corruption takes very different forms in different countries", the German NGO's study finds that "this year's scores reveal that all regions of the world are at a standstill when it comes to fighting public sector corruption".

Based on public opinion surveys in 180 countries, the ranking of countries with the highest perception of corruption is based on an index from 0 to 100 (zero being the most corrupt and 100 the most virtuous). Denmark, Finland and New Zealand are all tied for first place with an index of 88. It is not until the 22nd place that the first Mediterranean country, France, appears with a score of 71.

Slovenia's index reaches an all-time low

The Mediterranean basin remains very contrasted in this respect. Of the twenty-five countries studied in this geographical area, only eight exceed the index of 50. In 2021, Greece will be pushed out (by one point) from the list where it appeared in 2020.

Still in Southern Europe, the situation in Slovenia is getting worse. Although its index of 57 remains respectable, it is the lowest level in history for this Balkan country. "Following the establishment of a relatively strong anti-corruption framework, it was revealed that the government neglected to apply existing rules guaranteeing transparency, efficiency and equal treatment of suppliers in public procurement during the pandemic," the NGO regrets. It also denounces "pressure on independent monitoring bodies, threats to freedom of peaceful assembly and disproportionate restrictions on the right to demonstrate" as well as "a smear campaign against the country's public media".

In Northern Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, the new prime minister elected on 16 January 2022, has made the fight against corruption one of his priorities. Although it has moved up four places in one year, the country remains one of the lowest rated in Southern Europe, with an index of only 39.

Lebanon drops six points since 2012

The Mediterranean is still heavily affected by corruption (map: Transparency International)
The Mediterranean is still heavily affected by corruption (map: Transparency International)
"In the Middle East and North Africa, the interests of a powerful few continue to dominate the political and private spheres, and restrictions on civil and political liberties prevent any meaningful progress," the NGO notes. "Corruption is systemic, with deep roots in both institutions and daily life," it continues.

In this region, where Libya (index 17 as in 2020) and Syria (13 and second to last on the list, on a par with Somalia and just ahead of Sudan) have the worst scores in the world, Transparency International says that "systemic corruption endangers democracy and human rights".

Apart from these countries that are struggling to emerge from their civil wars, Tunisia is given an index of 44 (as in the last ranking). For the German NGO, "it has become an unfortunate example of how democratic gains can be lost". It points to the suspension of parliament in July 2021 by the elected president Kaïs Saïed, extended since, but also the closure in August 2021 of the premises of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (INLUCC), created in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution to succeed the Commission of Inquiry into cases of embezzlement and corruption. Its former president, lawyer Chawki Tabib, is under investigation for "suspected fraud and forgery". However, when the new government was sworn in in October 2021, the new Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden announced that her priority was "the fight against corruption".

Lebanon is losing another index point (-6 since 2012), the biggest drop in the region after Syria (-13 over the same period). "Several laws passed in the last two years are far from being implemented. Lebanon also has significant gaps in public procurement procedures and financial transparency," the NGO notes. "Of all the offshore companies revealed in the Pandora Papers leaks, Lebanese politicians and businessmen own the largest number, 346 companies. Although several public and politically exposed figures have been named, no investigation has been undertaken by the Lebanese authorities," laments Transparency International. Riad Salamé, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, was recently banned from leaving the country by the public prosecutor at the Court of Appeal of the Mount Lebanon region (centre) on 11 January 2022.

CPI rankings and trends of Mediterranean countries

Rang mondial 2021 Pays IPC 2021 IPC 2020
22 France 71 69
32 Portugal 62 61
34 Espagne 61 62
36 Israël 59 60
41 Slovénie 57 60
42 Italie 56 53
49 Malte 54 53
52 Chypre 53 57
58 Grèce 49 50
58 Jordanie 49 49
63 Croatie 47 47
64 Monténégro 46 45
70 Tunisie 44 44
87 Kosovo 39 36
87 Maroc 39 40
87 Macédoine du Nord 39 35
96 Serbie 38 38
96 Turquie 38 40
110 Albanie 35 36
110 Bosnie-Herzégovine 35 35
117 Algérie 33 36
117 Égypte 33 33
154 Liban 24 25
172 Libye 17 17
178 Syrie 13 14

Table: (sources: Transparency International CPI 2021 Report)

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