COMMENTARY: EU Anti-Corruption Report – Croatia Progresses in Sanctioning, but Lagging in Prevention

10 February 2014, LPJ Croatia Issue 71

Corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe. Affecting all EU Member States, corruption costs the European economy approximately €120 billion per year. Member States have taken many initiatives in recent years, but the results are uneven and more should be done to prevent and punish corruption.

These are some of the conclusions from the first ever EU Anti-Corruption Report published today by the European Commission, confirming that the EU and EU member states need to continue to repair and reconstruct its institutions to battle corruption, especially systematically preventing corruption all across the EU.

Even though Croatia has made great strides in recent years to judicially process corruption cases, especially processing high-level cases of political corruption (e.g. arrest and trial of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on various charges of corruption while in office), very little has been done to prevent corruption; little has been done to institute legislative and organisational systems to prevent political and economic corruption.

On the contrary, issues such as “conflict of interest” are essentially addressed hypocritically with minor fines reaching a couple of thousand euros and eventual enforcement of divesting management of private companies to a politician’s attorney while in office, while everyone knows the politician or the politician’s family are still running their private businesses that often get favourable government contracts or favourable treatment by government institutions (e.g.  tax and regulatory agencies).

The only time dismissals are even considered or occur are when the conflict is disclosed in the media and becomes a political issue (e.g. Assistant Finance Minister Segon)…

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