The nation of Spain is prosecuting 37 people – including former officials in the ruling center-Right party – for steering government contracts to their politically connected friends. It will not help the defense that the suspects gave themselves audacious, Godfather-inspired nicknames like Don Vito and “The Little Meatball.” While a disturbing example in itself, a series of studies show that corruption is becoming a growing threat in the EU – and the larger the government, the greater the level of perfidy.
The number of single-bid contracts in the European Union nearly doubled between 2006 and 2015, and the number of bidders per contract fell by 40 percent during the same period. The penchant for cronyism in such arrangements is obvious.
As government officials award contracts based on favoritism, citizens must resort to bribery in order to procure the services their taxes already funded. Transparency International found that, “[o]n average, one in six households” in Europe and Central Asia “paid a bribe when they accessed public services.” EU bribery rates – which range from zero percent in the UK to 42 percent in Moldova – generally track with the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, where the UK ranks only behind Switzerland, and Moldova ranks a dismal 117.
Interestingly, in Western EU nations, the most likely bribe recipients were part of the government-run healthcare systems. (more…)