Italy’s poor performance in Transparency International’s Annual Corruptions Perceptions Index is no laughing matter.
According to the Italian Court of Auditors, corruption costs Italy a massive €60 billion – or four percent of its GDP – each year. But things might just be improving.
Italy climbed eight places in the rankings to take 61st place out of all 174 countries included in the report. Italy is now ranked equally corrupt as Senegal, Montenegro and South Africa, with which it shares a lowly cleanliness score of 44 out of 100.
Italy might be the eurozone’s third largest economy, but it was far behind all its northern European neighbours in the corruption stakes.
Scandinavia dominated the top spots, with Denmark being considered the least corrupt country on earth, with a score of 91.The UK and Germany shared 10th spot with a score of 81.
Southern European countries like Spain and Greece also out-performed Italy, with Greek premier Alexis Tsipras’ radically left-wing country leapfrogging Italy last year and finishing in 58th position, perhaps showing that change doesn’t have to be piecemeal.
Italians think that politicians need to do more to stamp out the rampant nepotism, bribery, fraud and all other abuses of power for private gain that are holding the country back.
The report revealed that just 19 percent of Italians think government measures to combat corruption are effective, in spite of much recent legislation being passed to help the country wipe out the problem.
Recent attempts have been made to speed-up the notoriously slow legal system in Italy, most notably with the passing of fresh anti-corruption laws in May last year. The country has also recently adopted a hard line against shirking public sector workers.
But experts say there is still a long way to go.
New laws are currently passing through parliament, which will offer more protection to whistle blowers in the private and public sector. Transparency International has also called upon Italy to create a public registry of lobbyists, overseen by an independent commission.
But political change in Italy is likely to be slow. According to the report, Italians believe the two most corrupt institutions in the country are political parties and parliament itself – which they gave corruption scores of over four out of five.