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MaltaToday 1 February 2023 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 1 FEBRUARY 2023 2 MATTHEW VELLA MALTA dropped three points in Transparency International's corruption perceptions index, down from 54 in 2021 to 51 (out of 100) in 2022, mainly over a lack of convictions in cases of high-level corruption. The downward CPI trend was confirmed after recommenda- tions from the public inquiry into the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Gal- izia were yet to be implemented in legislation, with continued concerns for media freedom and political interference in public media and for the fight against organised crime. "A state of impunity persists with no convictions in cases of high-level corruption. Greater independence and resourcing of the Maltese justice system is needed to uphold the rule of law," TI said in its latest CPI report for 2022. Malta now ranks 54 out of 180 countries in the CPI. The least corrupt state in the CPI index, taking the top spot, was Den- mark, with a score of 90. Italy (56) saw gains from an- ti-corruption measures adopted in the last decade, including a new procurement code which has led to more transparency. However, political volatility and snap elec- tions have badly delayed progress in key areas such as lobbying and corporate transparency. With a five-point decline since 2021, the UK (73) stands as a warning that countries in the top tier of the index are still vulner- able to the perception of corrup- tion and undue influence. Public trust in government is worry- ingly low after a string of politi- cal "sleaze" and public spending scandals, which showcased how easily political access could be bought by private interests and exposed loopholes that let public officials regulate their own con- duct. Qatargate, Gazprom, Uber Files The EU is reeling from a mas- sive corruption scandal with alle- gations that current and former members of the European Parlia- ment and their staff took bribes from Qatari officials – along with reports also implicating Morocco – in exchange for influence. In Germany (79), a state govern- ment concealed the ties between its Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation and Rus- sian state-owned gas company Gazprom. The foundation lobbied for the now-suspended Nord Stream 2.0 pipeline and is alleged to have served as Gazprom's conduit for influencing state officials. The Uber Files investigations laid bare the influence large cor- porations wield through undis- closed and privileged access to decision-makers in France (72). Concerns about weak political in- tegrity among top public officials continued with fresh high-profile breaches, highlighting the need for a government ethics officer who could advise ministers on their ethical obligations. The scandal reached EU institutions, implicating the former European Commissioner in secretly lobby- ing for the tech giant. Nordic countries continue to take the top spots on the CPI ta- ble, Denmark (90), Finland (87), Iceland (74), Norway (84) and Sweden (83). But they are yet to address shortcomings in their political integrity frameworks. In Switzerland (82), rules that allow Swiss parliamentarians to keep paid positions alongside their political activities are of par- ticular concern, while the Neth- erlands is among the weakest in the region when it comes to lob- bying oversight. Weak enforcement and slow implementation of anti-corrup- tion measures Many countries in the region are unable to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption cases and justice systems across the EU face long delays in corruption cases. This is the case in Cyprus (52), one of the decliners on the CPI, which has failed to fully op- erationalise a newly established anti-corruption authority. In Spain (60), an anti-corruption plan and key pieces of legislation covering transparency, lobbying and whistleblowing continue to be delayed. A four-year stand-off over the highest level of judicial appointments has led to calls for an independent appointment system and prompted warnings from the European Commission over the rule of law. Portugal's (62) new anti-corrup- tion strategy was launched with- out guidelines or monitoring, and the country is stalling on abolish- ing its controversial golden visa (residency-by-investment) pro- gramme that has both increased corruption risks and put pressure on the housing market. Belgium's (73) still has no over- arching integrity framework for ministers. But law enforcement showed teeth in their investiga- tions into bribery of current and former Members of the Europe- an Parliament and their staff by foreign actors. In Bulgaria (43), one of the lowest CPI performers in the region for more than a decade, vested corporate interests have established strong oligarchic in- fluence. In 2020, public protests fragmented the political party scene, which has led to caretaker governments and an ongoing po- litical crisis. And after a decade of democrat- ic backsliding and systemic dete- rioration of the rule of law at the hands of the ruling party, Hun- gary (42) finds itself at the very bottom of the 2022 CPI for West- ern Europe and EU. Following a recent agreement with the EU, conditions for the country to ac- cess €5.8 billion (US$6.2 billion) in EU recovery funds include in- stitutional reforms to strengthen judicial independence and the fight against corruption. Part of EU cohesion funds – €6.3 bil- lion (US$6.7 billion) – has been suspended due to unacceptable corruption risks and ineffective prosecutorial action. Malta drops down Corruption Perceptions Index over lack of convictions Downward CPI trend registered after recommendations from Caruana Galizia public inquiry were yet to be implemented in legislation, with continued concerns for the fight against organised crime, and lack of corruption convictions #cpi2022 60 Spain 59 Latvia 56 Czechia 56 Italy 56 Slovenia 55 Poland 53 Slovakia 52 Cyprus 52 Greece 51 Malta 50 Croatia 46 Romania 43 Bulgaria 42 Hungary 90 Denmark 87 Finland 83 Sweden 80 Netherlands 79 Germany 77 Ireland 77 Luxembourg 74 Estonia 73 Belgium 72 France 71 Austria 62 Lithuania 62 Portugal SCORE COUNTRY/TERRITORY EUROPEAN UNION 64/100 AVERAGE SCORE CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX 2022 This work from Transparency International (2022) is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0 SCORE 0-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80-89 90-100 No Data Very Clean Highly Corrupt Disputed Boundaries* Lines of Control* *The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map follow the UN practice to the best of our knowledge and as of January 2023. They do not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of Transparency International concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Malta: score changes 2012 - 2022

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