Italy is the most corrupt country in the eurozone, along with Greece, and has scored less than Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Ghana in the 2011 Corruption Perception Index, compiled by German-based NGO Transparency International.
Ranking 183 countries according to how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be, the Index combines different sources of information from official institutions, banks, questions on the bribery of public officials, embezzlement of public funds and so on. New Zealand, Denmark and Finland are seen as the least corrupt countries in the world, while Somalia and North Korea are the worst.
Italy's endemic corruption in its public sector could trigger another credit crunch in the European Union, if authorities do not take the necessary measures. "It is compulsory that institutions, politicians, companies and society work together to reach a common purpose," Maria Teresa Brassiolo told Italian newspapers. "They should fight the high level of corruption in the country, cutting the cost of politics and delivering resources for a virtuous economy. The battle against corruption is an absolute priority for the growth."
"This year we have seen corruption on protestors' banners be they rich or poor. Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government," wrotes the organisation chair Huguette Labelle.
Italy's rating is 3.9 while Greece's is 3.4, ranking hem 69th and 80th respectively. The European Commission measured the weight of corruption in the European Union as 1 per cent of the GDP, which is equal to 120 million euros per year.
"Public sector governance that puts the interests of its citizens first is a responsibility that transcends borders," reads a statement by the organisation. "Governments must act accordingly. For their part, citizens need to continue demanding better performance from their leaders."