The “cleanest” country is Denmark with 90 points, followed by Finland (87), New Zealand (85) and Norway (84). Austria is in 20th place with 71 points. In the last report, the Republic was ranked 22nd with the same number of points outside the top 20 for the first time since 2014. As other countries lost points this time compared to the previous year's report, Austria fell behind. This ensures minimum displacement.
Alexander Picker, CEO of TI Austria, emphasizes in an interview with ORF.at that when assessing perceived corruption in a country, the number of points is important. He describes Austria's decision as “calm”. One might expect more from a first-world country in the middle of Europe, says Bigger, pointing to “many corruption scandals” in recent years. Austria is now making progress against corruption, but: “More needs to be done.”
The index has been measuring sentiment since 1995
The Corruption Perceptions Index has been compiled annually since 1995 and is based on, among other things, surveys of businesspeople and experts. The index measures perceptions of the prevalence of anti-bribery and anti-corruption mechanisms in the public sector. Each country's value is based on multiple data sources from twelve reputable companies.
The assigned values are given on a scale from zero (high perceived corruption) to 100 (no corruption). In the current CPI, Austria is 19 points behind first place Denmark. Compared to previous years, Austria remained stable, meaning no improvement.
Austria reached its best ranking in 2005. At that time it was number ten in the index – the number varied. Austria's worst performance in 2013 was 26th with just 69 points. From 2019 to 2022 the value dropped from 77 points to 71 points.
It is surprising that Austria did not advance on points. Last year, criminal corruption laws were toughened and better protections for whistleblowers passed. On Wednesday, the National Council will also discuss the long-announced lifting of official secrecy. A decision is considered definitive. However, Austria has stagnated at 71 points.
TI Austria CEO Picker explains this with a certain time delay. He says recently passed laws and the future end of official secrecy may be reflected in upcoming reports. But it is not certain. According to TI Austria, even laws to combat systemic defects are insufficient. In addition, Bigger said reforms of top management in the judiciary and the lobbying law are still pending. “There are already enough recommendations.”
From the point of view of investigations, indictments, and investigative committees, Austria may have gotten worse, too. “On the one hand, corruption is most noticeable when proceedings are underway and subcommittees are meeting and reporting,” Bigger asserts. On the other hand, it is important for people to see that the judiciary and political control can do their job.
Expert: “Pull the belt”
Former state prosecutor George Krakow sees it the same way and describes the situation as “second rate at best.” It's time for everyone in charge to “pull themselves together and live up to the high demands of their role models,” says a TI Austria board member. This includes the non-appearance of corrupt behavior. In addition, we must treat each other with respect and ensure that the judiciary functions independently and prudently.
TI is not alone in criticizing Austria's anti-corruption drive. Last summer, the Council of Europe's anti-corruption committee (GRECO) issued a damning report on Austria. Austria is one of the countries that has implemented the fewest recommendations to fight corruption. The recommendations were published in March 2023.