Corruption across the European Union’s 28 countries costs some €120 billion ($162 billion) per year – a “breathtaking” sum equal to the bloc’s entire annual budget, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Monday.

“The extent of the problem in the EU is breathtaking,” Malmstroem wrote in an op-ed piece in Swedish newspaper Goeteborgs-Posten.

Malmstroem said the estimate, amounting to a little less than 1 percent of the bloc’s total economic output, could be “much higher”.

In presenting the first such European Commission report, Malmstroem emphasised the figure was “an estimation” and said the actual amount is “probably … much higher”.

“Corruption undermines faith in democratic institutions, drains the legal economy of resources and is a breeding ground for organised crime,” she wrote.

Malmstroem called on member states to do more to stamp out the problem, saying: “The price of not acting is simply too high.”

The report does not rank countries nor suggest legal remedies, with Malmstroem saying that steps actions could follow talks with member states.

“No ‘corruption-free’ zone in EU”

But “one thing is very clear – there is no ‘corruption-free’ zone in Europe”, she said.

While Malmstroem refused to point the finger at any particular country, the EU has had longstanding concerns about corruption in […]

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