BERLIN: November 21, 2016. Following the election of Donald Trump as America's next president, watchdog Transparency International (TI) has released a report saying a third of the population of Europe and Central Asia think corruption is one of the biggest problems facing their respective countries.
TI said it spoke to nearly 60,000 people in 42 countries from Portugal to Kazakhstan between November last year and July 2016 and concluded that nearly a third of the region's citizens believe government officials and lawmakers are "highly corrupt".
According to the survey, an average of one in six households paid a bribe to use a public service during the period, with the highest rates in Tajikistan (50 percent), Moldova (42 percent), Azerbaijan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Ukraine (38 percent), and Russia (34 percent).
Romania had the highest rate for an EU Member State with 29 percent, followed by Lithuania with 24 per cent, said TI.
The report notes that in the region's richest countries, 65 percent of people think the wealthy have too much influence on public policy compared to 44 percent in EU accession countries, and 46 percent in CIS countries.
In Spain, 88 percent of people consider wealthy individuals to have excessive influence over government decisions; in Portugal it is 85 percent, France 79 percent, Germany and the UK, 77 percent. Overall, TI said 26 percent of citizens in Europe and Central Asia believe business executives are "highly corrupt".
The watchdog cites the recent example of former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso accepting a position with Goldman Sachs. The news generated a petition of over 100,000 signatures calling for greater integrity in politics and business.
"Corruption is a significant problem all across the Europe and Central Asia region. In EU countries many citizens see how the wealthy and those in government distort the system to their advantage," said José Ugaz, TI chair.
"Governments are simply not doing enough to tackle corruption because individuals at the top are benefiting. To end this deeply troubling relationship between wealth, power and corruption, governments must require higher levels of transparency, including around who owns and controls companies through public beneficial ownership registries," he added.
Based in Berlin, TI is represented by more than 100 chapters worldwide with the goal to ensure government, business and civil society is free from corruption.