In the middle of a global pandemic, Hungary has some internal challenges to overcome as well. Countries of the Eastern European region have managed to work to get corruption under control in the past 10 years while Hungary lags behind.
We have recently reported about the government’s management of coronavirus data and the overall lack of information the country provides; meanwhile, there is another aspect the government should work on in order to improve.
10 countries joined the European Union in 2004, Hungary being one of them. Belonging to a cooperation like this comes with certain rules to follow and criteria to fulfil. One of these is decreasing the level of corruption in member states. Most of these 10 countries, like Slovakia, Poland, or Estonia, are doing a great job; meanwhile, Hungary decided to take a slightly different road in 2010.
“The political program of Hungary became not decreasing the level of corruption but the creation of the System of National Cooperation,”
writes István János Tóth, director of the Corruption Research Centre Budapest in his article posted on G7. He referred to an analytic work currently in progress.
Transparency International’s corruption perception index shows that in the past 11 years, apart from Hungary, all countries examined have managed to work on their position compared to Austria, meaning that they all got closer to Hungary’s neighbouring country. The level of perceived corruption has definitely decreased in the other three countries of the Visegrád Four and in Estonia, for instance. Hungary could have made a great recovery, as the country was already at the bottom of the list in 2010, the furthest from the Austrian level, writes hvg.hu.
Apart from the perception of corruption, there are other indicators to find out a country’s tendency for corruption in certain economic sectors. One of these indicators is public procurements, which can shed light on the higher risk or tendency for corruption. It is fairly easy to calculate; we just need to look up all public procurements announced during a given year and check how many of them had more than three contenders trying to win the offer.
In the case of Hungary, the examined period between 2006-2019 was divided into two parts in order to further depict the effect of the System of National Cooperation. Data of the first phase between 2006-2010 was compared to numbers between 2011-2019. Estonia produced the best result: already during the first phase, the country managed to reach 47% of the Austrian level, only to skyrocket in the second period and make its corruption control stronger than that of Austria.
Almost all the countries in the region improved their situation compared to the first phase. It is only Hungary that distances itself from the Austrian standard.
Corruption control used to be 41% of the reference point during the first period, while between 2011-2019, it dropped to 37%. Even Romania has surpassed Hungary in this respect.
During the past 10 years, compared to the level of Austria, corruption has increased in Hungary, instead of decreasing.
On the other hand, countries such as Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, and Estonia are the perfect examples of how to achieve a visible result in decreasing corruption in the course of a relatively short period of 10 years.