Greece fell eight places in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index last year, dropping to 67th position from 59th in 2017.
The country scored 45 points in 2018, down from 48 in 2017, according to TI’s report which was made public Tuesday. The report draws on surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Although it fell last year, the country’s score is still nine points higher than in 2012, marking some improvement.
“One explanation for this is that since the financial crisis in 2008, the country undertook several structural reforms so as to balance severe austerity measures,” Transparency said.
Despite the structural improvements, progress on reducing corruption has halted in Greece and the country is saddled with burdensome bureaucracy, the report said.
Transparency cited a series of scandals in 2018 which undermined anti-corruption efforts, including the improper procurement of medicines by the Greek government, where former ministers and prime ministers were accused of wrongdoing.
It also cited the recent appointment of retired Supreme Court judge Vassiliki Thanou as head of the Hellenic Competition Commission – the body that oversees the enforcement of anti-trust legislation – which raised concerns over conflicts of interest, given that Thanou is a close adviser to the prime minister.
“The appointment ultimately challenges the independence of the institution,” TI said.
Denmark topped the list in 2018, with 88 points, closely followed by Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, which each scored 85. Greece ranked between the two bottom scorers in Europe: Hungary (46) and Bulgaria (42).