Most of the 23 countries of emerging Europe remain vulnerable to corruption, according to the latest edition of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
Not one has yet made it to the exclusive club of “very clean countries”, the index’s top category.
Estonia comes closest, once again named as emerging Europe’s least corrupt country. The Baltic state improved its score from 73 (out of a possible 100) in 2018 to 74 in 2019 and is now ranked as the 18th least corrupt country in the world, performing better than Ireland, Japan and France.
“A comprehensive legislative framework, independent institutions and effective online tools make it possible to reduce petty corruption and make political party financing open and transparent,” the anti-corruption watchdog’s annual report notes, adding, however, that recent problems such as money laundering scandals involving the Estonian branch of Danske Bank demonstrate a greater need for integrity and accountability in Estonia’s business and banking sectors.
The rest of emerging Europe is a long way behind.
Lithuania and Slovenia rank joint 35th globally with scores of 60, and overtake Poland, now ranked 41st globally with a score of 58.
Georgia, with a score of 56, is the region’s best performer outside of the European Union, and now scores the same as the Czech Republic and Latvia, and higher than Malta and Italy.
The remaining three countries which make up emerging Europe’s top 10 are Slovakia (ranked 59th globally with a score of 50), Croatia (63rd; 47) and Belarus (66th; 45).
Bulgaria was again named the most corrupt country in the European Union, with a score of 43, which nevertheless shows some progress on 2018’s score of 42. Hungary and Romania both score 44, the same as South Africa and Suriname.
They are followed by Armenia (77th; 42), Serbia (91st; 39), Bosnia and Herzegovina (101st; 36), Kosovo (101st; 36), Albania (106th; 35), North Macedonia (106th; 35) and Moldova (120th; 32).
The report says that despite their aspirations to join the EU, none of the six Western Balkans countries have managed to improve their anti-corruption scores over the past 12 months.
Azerbaijan – emerging Europe’s erstwhile laggard – saw some improvement in 2019, boosting its score from 25 to 30, the same as Ukraine. Despite all of its high profile anti-corruption efforts the country is now considered the most vulnerable to corruption in the region.