Strengthening the Fight Against Corruption

Assessing the EU Legislative and Policy Framework

Published in: Publications Office of the European Union website (2023). doi: 10.2837/22427

Posted on RAND.org on January 19, 2023

by Ilia Gaglio, Jacopo Guzzon, Katarina Bartz, Luca Marcolin, Rrap Kryeziu, Emma Disley, Jirka Taylor, Shann Hulme

The present study to strengthen the fight against corruption in the EU aims at providing recommendations for possible EU measures in the area of corruption prevention and repression and to assess and compare the impacts of the identified policy options. The core problems, drivers and issues of the EU anti-corruption acquis, the need for and added value of EU action and the relevant policy objectives were identified through detailed desk research and numerous consultation activities. Overall, the assessment pointed to legislative and operational barriers that hinder both the prevention and the fight against corruption in the EU. Main barriers include significant differences in terms of legislative and administrative arrangements in place at the national level to fight against corruption, as well as a lack of adequate data collection and monitoring of corruption data and trends that prevents sufficient prevention of corruption in the EU. These findings informed the design of the following policy measures that have been identified during this study:

  • Policy option 1 - Baseline Scenario: no further action is taken;
  • Policy option 2 - Minimum standards and supporting soft measures: legal proposal on minimum standards, e.g., through the introduction of common minimum rules and standards against corruption-related offences, which is flanked by supporting (soft) measures;
  • Policy option 3 - Stronger alignment and supporting soft measures: legal proposal on additional minimum standards against corruption-related offences and enablers, flanked by stronger supporting measures.

This study identified policy option 3 as the preferred policy option, which constitutes stronger legislative alignment flanked by supporting soft measures. Specifically, the preferred policy option calls for the establishment of common minimum rules concerning the definition of corruption offences and related penalties, alongside common rules towards enhanced investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes across the Member States (e.g. boosting reporting, harmonising approaches to immunity and statutes of limitation, as well as to enablers of corruption). Also, the preferred policy option foresees measures aimed at ensuring adequate prevention of corruption, including comprehensive collection of corruption data, as well as the establishment of dedicated anti-corruption authorities both at the EU and national level. The assessment of the impacts expected from these options showed that the policy option 3 is highly effective in tackling the identified policy objectives, albeit slightly less cost-effective than policy option 2, considering some of the foreseen non-legislative measures would entail an increased financial burden. The preferred option is also expected to have a positive impact to the highest degree on security, economy and society, while impacts on fundamental rights has been assessed as moderate.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.