The Rise and Fall of Anti- Corruption Agencies in the European Union

Thursday, July 13, 2017
JWS - Room J15 (J375) (University of Glasgow)
Andrea Wagner , Political Science, MacEwan University
Corruption represents the greatest obstacle to the progress of democracy, good governance, rule of law and economic development. For numerous years, the problem of corruption was attached only to developing countries, while the European Union (EU) was regarded as an example of good governance and efficient anti-corruption practices. However, the extent of corruption within the European Union is dramatic, causing a loss of 120bn euros annually to the EU economy (Santa and O’Donnell, 2014, par.1). Such figures raise serious doubts about the EU's capacity to combat corruption both within its institutions and its member states. The European Commission has been a strong advocate, and encouraged many EU member states to set up a politically neutral anti-corruption agency responsible for combatting corruption (ACA). The idea of pooling core anti-corruption functions such as the investigation and prevention of corrupt practices into one powerful agency first gained prominence in Hong Kong through the success story of the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC). The Commission’s latest anti-corruption report singled out four successful ACAs within the European Union (the Romanian National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the Slovenian Commission for Prevention of Corruption, the Latvian Bureau for Prevention and Combating of Corruption and the Croatian Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime attached to the State Attorney General’s Office). As the paper will show, rampant corruption has the capacity of overwhelming any anti-corruption initiative and independent anti-corruption institutions, despite achieving high indictment rates remain unsuccessful in undermining patronage politics.