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Migration and Home Affairs

Corruption

Corruption - commonly referred to as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain is a multi-sector phenomenon, present both in the public and private sector, and in the political arena. While corruption can take the form of petty crime or complex high-level corruption, it can also hide behind favouritism and nepotism, conflicts of interest and revolving doors – where business meets politics.

Corruption is not just taxpayer money stolen. It is investors scared off, big favours bought by big money and democracy undermined by the powerful.

President Ursula von der Leyen, 2021 State of the Union speech
Videoconference between Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and the Members of the New European Bauhaus High-Level Roundtable

Corruption is harmful to society. It constitutes a threat to security as it enables and drives organised crime, terrorism, and other forms of crimes, including money laundering or drug trafficking. Corruption deepens inequalities, erodes citizens’ trust in public institutions, undermines good governance and social justice, and constitutes a serious threat to the rule of law, democracy, and fundamental rights. Corruption has also a negative impact on prosperity and economic growth by creating business uncertainty, lowering investment levels, hampering fair competition and reducing public finances. It also adversely affects government objectives that focus on improving income disparity and environmental protection.

The European Union is one of the least corrupt regions in the world. However, none of the EU countries is fully free from corruption. Although its nature and scope may differ from one EU country to another, corruption harms the EU as a whole:

EU Rule of Law Report

The aim of the Rule of Law Report is to look at key developments in the area of the rule of law across the whole EU – including corruption.

EU’s approach to fight corruption

The European Commission's anti-corruption efforts are centred on the following main pillars:

  • Mainstreaming anti-corruption provisions in EU law
  • Monitoring efforts of EU countries in preventing and fighting corruption, and building dialogue with national anti-corruption contact points
  • Supporting the implementation of anti-corruption measures at national level through funding, technical assistance and experience-sharing
  • Improving the quantitative evidence-base for anti-corruption policy
  • Promoting the fight against corruption globally, through the participation in relevant international anti-corruption meetings

While the true social cost of corruption cannot be measured merely by the amount of bribes paid or by public funds being diverted, corruption has socio-economic effects on governance, politics, business, and security. As such, corruption poses a serious threat to the EU and our citizens.

This is why the fight against corruption is a key political priority for the EU.

News on corruption