In the midst of the financial crisis, the European Union (EU) is coming under ever closer public scrutiny, and this will inevitably cast a harsher light on whether EU funds are distributed and managed in a fair and transparent manner. In particular, corruption and related activity not only compromise the EU's finances but also corrode trust in the EU's integration project. It is the approach towards corruption within EU institutions that matters most to the perception of the EU as a democratic and legitimate project that can win popular support among its citizens. Moreover, EU citizens have a legal right to a corruption-free administration enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Article 41 of the Charter sets out the right to good administration, which means that 'every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the EU.' The appearance of favouritism or protection of special interest can undermine the trust of citizens and damage the EU's reputation. The evidence suggests that much needs to be done to win this trust. According to the 2012 Eurobarometer survey,an overwhelming majority of respondents (73 per cent) agreed that there is corruption within EU institutions. This perception among EU citizens has been consistently strong over the years: 71 per cent of respondents agreed in 2005 and 76 per cent in 2009.These results demonstrate that greater efforts to tackle corruption are needed.
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