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Wat is Corruption and Why Fight it?

What is Corruption?

Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain. It leads to injustice, inequality, and segregation and hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority. It includes acts of bribery, embezzlement, nepotism or state capture. It is often associated with and reinforced by other illegal practices, such as bid-rigging, fraud or money laundering. 

The extent of corruption in the EU

Documentary director Isabelle Sylvestre is currently making a documentary in which she aims to expose corruption in the EU. The extent of corruption in the EU is staggering and costs the EU an estimated 120 billion euro's each year.  Imprisonment may seem like an effective measure against corruption. But because corruption is so profitable, in the end it will only cut off the head of a 7-headed snake. In the fight against corruption, there is only one effective measure: transparency. That is why director Isabelle Sylvestre has decided to make a documentary that exposes corruption in the EU.

Why fight corruption

Self-serving politicians who loot state coffers with impunity.  The Panama Papers Scandal. Company directors who abuse their power. From New Delhi to Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring – all over the world people are taking to the streets to protest against these injustices. Their grievances are particular to each country, but there is a common thread linking them - corruption. 

Corruption corrodes public trust

The costs of corruption for economic, political and social development is evident. It is estimated at 5% of GDP. But one of the most convincing arguments in support of the fight against corruption is little known to the public and remains unused in political debates.  The main argument is not about costs but about trust. Corruption corrodes public trust in its institutions and ultimately delegitimizes the state. 

Corruption delegitimizes the state

Rules and regulations are circumvented by bribes, public budget control is undermined by illicit money flows and political critics and the media are silenced through bribes levering out democratic systems of checks and balances. Corruption in political processes like elections or party financing undermines the rule of the people and thus the very foundation of democracy. Due to corruption, and lack of transperancy the state eventually loses its credibility and legitimacy. As a result, disappointed citizens might turn away from the state, retreat from political processes, migrate – or – stand up against what they perceive to be the corrupt political and economic elites. The global uprisings from the Arab world to India, Brazil and occupy Wall Street are proving that business, as usual, can no longer be an option for a number of countries


"Fighting Corruption is not just good governance. It's self-defence. It's patriotism."

Joe Biden, American politician