Photo by Mark Michaels via Flickr

Skipping another semester on anti-corruption

13 June, 2018

In 2014 the European Commission committed itself to take action against corruption by publishing the first EU Anti-Corruption report. However, only two years later the Commission scrapped the report in an exchange of letters between Commissioner Frans Timmermans and the European Parliament.

The decision was a political one, as it can be seen from the meeting note of European Commission. The decision was criticized by 56 civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU, who called for the EU to live up to its commitments in the fight against corruption.

The European Commission said that their efforts would continue within the European Semester process. The recommendations that are made to member states however speak a different language.

The recommendations do not show any additional ambition on anti-corruption, despite promises of taking the fight seriously. Corruption issues are only mentioned in recommendations for 7 out of 28 member states, namely Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Romania and Slovakia. The scope of anti-corruption recommendations also remains narrow.

As the current draft recommendations for 2018 show, the European Commission has again not live up to its promises on making anti-corruption a high priority issue. The European Semester process remains an inadequate replacement for the Anti-Corruption report. Transparency International EU has identified multiple recommendations on how to improve the credibility and effectiveness of European Semester as a vehicle for delivering anti-corruption reforms.

After another modest European Commission proposal, it remains to be seen how the final semester recommendations will address corruption after Council review. It is unlikely that member states will come up with a more ambitious anti-corruption agenda. The Commission must address the key challenges in making the European Semester a credible and effective tool in the fight against corruption across the EU.


European Semester country-specific recommendations 2018
Country Corruption mentions Anti-corruption recommendations
Austria X X
Belgium X X
Bulgaria X
Croatia X
Cyprus X
Czech Republic
Denmark X X
Estonia X X
Finland X X
France X X
Germany X X
Ireland X X
Lithuania X
Luxembourg X X
The Netherlands X X
Poland X X
Portugal X
Slovenia X
Spain X X
Sweden X X
United Kingdom X X


The detailed list of corruption mentions can be accessed here.