Spain is worryingly stagnating in its fight against corruption. It does so, at least, in the Corruption Perception Index, a study prepared annually by the NGO Transparency International in which the opinion of managers and experts on the issue is taken.

Presented this Tuesday, this index gives Spain a score of 61 points out of 100 in the index, with 100 being the most desirable score.

The figure represents a drop of one point compared to what was registered in 2020 and 2019 and places the country in 34th place, somewhat far from the first 30 positions and very far from Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, which lead the ranking with 88 points.

However, beyond the point above or below, which can respond to small nuances of perception or some slight methodological change, what worries the authors of the report most is the lack of progress.

With this, Spain has been around 60 points for 10 years when, due to the size of its economy, it would normally be closer to 70 points, close to countries like France, Japan or Austria.

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And it is not that countries do not improve. Although it is true that the stagnation is more or less widespread, with barely more than 20 countries rising and another more than 20 falling and 131 remaining where they were, precisely in southern Europe there are countries that are improving.

This is the case of Italy, a place that has traditionally recorded a poor score in terms of perception of corruption. This year, with 56 points, it is very close to Spain. Portugal, for its part, achieved the surprise and overtook Spain by registering 62 points.

Specifically, at the European level in the north the best and the worst occur.

While the Scandinavian countries represent excellence, the geopolitical crisis that Russia and Ukraine have been dragging for years is noticeable in the area: the first goes to 136th place in the ranking with just 29 points and the second goes to 122 with 32.

España se estanca en la lucha contra la corrupción: el país lleva una década manteniendo sus niveles en el Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción, que recoge la opinión de directivos y expertos

Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, close to the conflict zones, also remain around 40 points.

"We are among the 15 most important economies in the world, we cannot be in the 34th position for corruption," stressed Manuel Villoria, professor of Political Science and Administration at the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid and part of the study. of the Steering Committee of Transparency International.

The study warns about the Spanish situation at a particularly sensitive moment in which, among many other things, it is necessary to give a good destination to the billions of Europeans who are going to arrive in Spain within the framework of the Next Generation funds that the EU.

"This would be the fundamental thing, beyond the fact that Israel and Italy bring us closer and Portugal passes us by. We must continue our path, follow our framework of reforms. The idea is that corruption is the exception in administrations," Villoria details.

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With at least one more year of the legislature ahead, in the eyes of the experts the Government must now begin to adopt important anti-corruption measures to get the country out of stagnation.

For these, the path goes through introducing conflict of interest assessment mechanisms and ethical codes that are complied with by the institutions, transposing the European directive on the protection of those who denounce corruption, approving a new law on transparency, a new law on lobbying and a new conflict of interest law, among many other measures.

In short, there is a lot of work ahead.

"But all this must be put into operation correctly. In Spain, unfortunately, we tend to make laws that are not fully complied with or that are so broad that they can be breached without anything happening, and we cannot continue like this," says Villoria.

Transparency meets respect for human rights in the rest of the world

In the rest of the world, issues such as the transparency of institutions are increasingly linked to human rights.

In this sense, the pandemic represented an opportunity for many governments to get closer to the people and resume the path of good governance. Judging by the results obtained by most of the countries in the index, this is clearly a wasted opportunity.

Instead of making efficient and effective efforts to combat the coronavirus, many senior officials have dedicated themselves to taking advantage of the lack of supplies of materials and vaccines to do business and to put themselves and their friends at the top of the lists. of vaccination.

Pure and simple corruption, in other words.

To this has been added the political corruption of a lifetime.

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In Spain, for example, in 2012 Sareb, the so-called "bad bank", issued debt worth more than 50,000 million euros to rescue the toxic real estate assets of the banks affected by the crisis.

Of those 50,000 million, more than 30,000 million still have to be returned, according to what appears on Sareb's own website.

"Sareb has to return many billions of euros to Europe as a result of the inappropriate activity of the banks. Is it a capture of policies? I don't know, but it is very close. There has also been clientelism in the Court of Auditors and in the Constitutional Court, where some parties have agreed on certain appointments", recalled Villoria.

Of the 23 countries whose scores have dropped significantly since 2012, 19 have also lost points on civil liberties.

Furthermore, of the 331 recorded cases of killings of human rights defenders in 2020, 98% occurred in countries with ratings below 45 points.

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A paradigmatic example of this is the Philippines. With a score of 33, the country continues the slide that began in 2014, the year its president Rodrigo Duterte was elected and began cracking down on freedom of association and expression while assassinating opposition leaders.

Since its creation in 1995, the Corruption Perceptions Index has become one of the main indicators of corruption in the public sector.

This rates 180 countries and territories around the world according to the perception of existing corruption in their public sector through data from 13 external sources, including the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, private companies specialized in risk analysis, firms consultancy and expert committees.

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