On 3 December 2014, Transparency International, the leading civil society organisation fighting corruption worldwide, released its 20th annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The index draws on surveys covering the views of business people, provides expert assessments, and ranks 175 countries by the perceived levels of corruption in their public sectors. The scale ranges from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean). The CPI can be found under the following link.

Denmark tops this year's index with a score of 92 out of 100, followed by New Zealand (91) and a grouping of Scandinavian states (Finland 90, Sweden 88, and Norway 85). North Korea and Somalia share the last place, each scoring just 8 points. Despite average economic growth of more than 4 per cent over the last 4 years, China (36) and Turkey (45) are among the biggest fallers, each dropping 4 or 5 points. In a Europe-wide comparison, Turkey stands out as the clear "loser", with bribery among political parties being the principal target of the criticism by the survey's Turkish participants.

Albania's ranking has risen from 116 to 110. This is an improvement compared to 2013 but, still, it shows that the country faces major corruption issues and substantial efforts need to be stepped up in order to improve law enforcement in the public sector and in the courts. (Vera Batalli)

Austria's ranking has risen from 26 to 23, with a score of 72 points. This is a slight improvement compared to the CPI 2013, but no peak achievement for the country. As it retains a middling rank amongst the EU industrialized countries, Austria has no reason for rejoicing its newest ranking. The country still has many loopholes that must be closed. (Heidemarie Paulitsch)

Bulgaria's ranking has risen from 77 to 69. While this marks an improvement against 2013, Bulgaria is still among the lowest ranked countries within the EU and in Western Europe. Accordingly, Bulgaria still needs a number of further improvements and practical actions against corruption, which we expect the country to pursue during 2015. (Galina Petkova)

Compared to 2013, Croatia's ranking slipped from 57 to 61. This places Croatia almost at the bottom amongst the EU countries. Although the perception of corruption in the public sector remains very high, the fight against corruption is becoming ever more widespread and cases of corruption in the public sector are increasingly being exposed and prosecuted, including cases against highly-positioned officials (ministers, mayors, etc). The competent authorities' more efficient work and the greater number of detected cases has led to the impression that the corruption in Croatia is more present than before; however, it is actually being gradually decreased, as potential offenders are increasingly intimidated by the authorities' actions and corresponding sanctions. (Dina Vlahov Buhin)

Although surprising, the fact that Hungary improved its ranking from rank 54 to 47 in 2014 does not provide much reason to celebrate. While that ranking is relatively good in comparison to most of its neighboring countries in the CEE region, Hungary is still far behind the Western European standard. Political decisions influence developments in the construction, infrastructure, and energy sectors, as well as public procurement tenders, to a great extent. In Q4 2014, the United States government clearly indicated that state officials of the Hungarian administration in key positions, including the chairperson of the Tax Authority, might be involved in corruption related matters. The transparency of the state and accountability of its officials has been shrinking. It appears that much remains to be done in order to decrease the level of corruption in Hungary. (Varga Daniel)

Kosovo's ranking has risen from 111 to 110. This is a small improvement to 2013, but still far away from the objective. There is a lot to be done. Taking into account that the old government has failed to achieve progress with political declarations, the new Government to be formed already this year will face considerable strain form the public to tackle corruption problems. (Virtyt Ibrahimaga)

Poland has risen to rank 35th. Among countries of the former Eastern Bloc, only Estonia achieved a higher ranking. With its newest ranking, Poland has also overtaken many "older" EU countries. It is worth noting that a decade earlier (2004), Poland only managed to rank 67th in the CPI ranking. (Michal Gruca)

Slovakia ranks 54th. Although Slovakia can boast about improving its placement by six ranks, its score still places it among six worst performances among the EU member-states. Accordingly, the country still has a long way to go in combating corruption. (Monika Kormosova and Michal Lucivjanski)

Slovenia's newest appraisal remains just above mid-scale (58 points) with the country rising from 43rd to 39th. On the one hand, this reflects the efforts of the two most recent governments, as well as the Slovenian Commission for the Prevention of Corruption. However, the score as such remains comparatively poor and a lot of work still needs to be done in order for Slovenia to close the gap to higher-ranked EU countries. The country has failed to achieve a significant improvement against its 2013 performance. Effective measures for increasing transparency (foremost in the public sector) have still not revealed themselves as a standard that is consistently followed. Significant changes in the years to come will only be possible if both public and private economic players recognize that a higher level of political will and legislative obedience is being committed to the fight against corruption. (Petra Smolnikar and Eva Skufca)

Turkey is ranked 64th in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), down from 53rd last year. With this decline, Turkey has reset its improvement during the last 6 years. While it (together with Macedonia (FYROM)) is ranked 27th out of 38 European states, Turkey is the 2nd best performer among the six EU candidate states. Turkey ranks 10th among the G20 countries. The government has reacted to the news by announcing new measures to increase "transparency" in economic life. The results are to be tested in the next year's rankings. (Levent Celepci)

A year after the start of the EuroMaidan Revolution, with its promise of a crackdown on corruption, Ukraine has shown almost no progress in disrupting corruption schemes, and managed to rise only one slot to rank 142nd in this year's survey. Despite a poor score, Ukraine's business community has shown cautious enthusiasm for the newly-formed government. For the first time in Ukraine's history, the Cabinet has three foreigners in its ranks, bringing a positive sign that the government is ready to clean up corruption. (Denys Sytnyk)

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