What is corruption?

Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Activities classified as corruption may be downright illegal or just unethical. Corrupt activities may be undertaken by private individuals, public officials, politicians, and business and industrial operators.

Corruption has a number of negative effects: it slows down economic development, increases inequality and environmental damage, and undermines democracy. Corruption makes it more difficult for people to access services on equal terms and to lead good lives in a safe society. Corruption could be described as a disease that permeates the fundamental structures of society and destroys its key functions.

The European Commission estimates that the annual cost of corruption for the EU economy is around EUR 120 billion. According to a study commissioned by the European Parliament, the price of corruption could be as high as EUR 990 billion a year, if indirect costs are also taken into consideration.

Corruption can occur in many forms

Conflicts of interest and dual roles

The same person is both a tenderer and a decision-maker in a competitive tender process, for example

Cartels and other activities in breach of the Competition Act

Revolving door phenomenon

Movement of individuals between positions of public office and jobs in the private sector, in either direction

Giving and taking of bribes

Undue influence over other people's decisions

Nepotism and favouritism