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Hungary's ranking slides in latest Corruption Perceptions Index

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Hungary's ranking slides in latest Corruption Perceptions Index

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Transparency International Wednesday released its annual index ranking countries (CPI) on their perceived levels of corruption.

How did countries of the EU bloc fare and did any member states slide up or down the table?

Carl Dolan, Director of Transparency International EU, told Euronews that some EU member states had seen an "alarming decline" when considering trends over a six-year period.

Hungary

The country has fallen 10 points in six years, meaning that perceptions about corruption in the country have worsened dramatically.

"This isn't a surprise given what we know about the situation in Hungary," said Dolan.

He attributed their fall down the index to a "tightening of Viktor Orban's grip" on independent civil society, independent media and the judiciary.

"What we're seeing in Hungary is this decline in ability to promote the rule of law is also leading to opportunities for corruption," he added.

One example Dolan gave is a recent OLAF probe concerning EU-funded projects run by a company once controlled by Orbán's son-in-law.

Greece and Italy

Both Mediterranean countries have improved their CPI score compared to previous years but "started from a very low base," according to Dolan.

Greece has gone up 12 points in the same six-year period that Hungary dropped by 10.

"What this shows is that things have to get pretty bad before countries take the issue of rooting out corruption seriously," said Dolan.

Sweden and Finland

These two Nordic member states remain in the top six of the index but Dolan sees Sweden and Finland as examples of European countries where we see complacency when it comes to corruption.

Both dropped four points compared to last year.

Dolan said it was difficult to point to a simple cause and effect for this decrease - but scandals, involving multinational companies based there bribing overseas officials, were not negligible.

"This probably didn't have a direct effect," according to Dolan, but "these kinds of cases do affect trust in the general integrity systems of these countries."

Complacency in the bloc

"The lesson is very clear, you need to be on top of this all the time otherwise the rot can set in," warned Transparency International's director.

He sees Hungary's decline as a "worrying sign for the EU" that should serve as a warning.

Dolan wants checks put in place on current members, not just those who wish to join the EU, to ensure they are not falling short in combatting corruption.

He sees the simplest way of doing this as saying to member states: "You're receiving EU funds depends on your track record of upholding the rule of law and fundamental rights in the fight against corruption."

It is important to bear in mind that Transparency International's ranking is a composite index based on a range of trusted sources, such as WEF surveys. However, it reflects the perceived corruption in countries and is not based on information that shows actual levels of corruption.