Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

EU Corruption Perceptions Index 2008

Transparency International publishes its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) each year, ranking the degree in which public officials and politicians in 180 countries are perceived to be corrupt based on data from 13 polls and surveys from 11 independent organizations both in and outside the target country.

For the purpose of this index, bribes, kickbacks and embezzlement of public funds are defined as corruption; and the existence, effectiveness and enforcement of anti-corruption laws and probes that investigate and hold those accountable were measured.

In addition to the (then) 27 EU member states, non-EU members (Norway and Switzerland) and westernized countries (United States, Australia and Canada) were included purely for comparison purposes for the convenience of readers.

*Article last updated on July 1, 2013

EU Countries Perceived to be Most Corrupt

Rank Country CPI score
1 Bulgaria 3.6
2 Romania 3.8
3 Lithuania (tie) 4.6
3 Poland (tie) 4.6
5 Greece 4.7
6 Italy 4.8
7 Latvia (tie) 5.0
7 Slovakia (tie) 5.0
9 Hungary 5.1
10 Czech Republic 5.2
11 Malta 5.8
12 Portugal 6.1
13 Cyprus 6.4
14 Spain 6.5
15 Estonia 6.6
16 Slovenia 6.7
17 France 6.9
18 Belgium 7.3
USA 7.3
19 Ireland 7.7
20 UK 7.7
21 Germany 7.9
Norway 7.9
22 Austria 8.1
23 Luxembourg 8.3
Australia 8.7
Canada 8.7
24 Netherlands 8.9
25 Finland 9.0
Switzerland 9.0
26 Denmark (tie) 9.3
26 Sweden (tie) 9.3

If you do not see your country listed, you can view Transparency International’s entire CPI by clicking here. When looking at the ranking, please remember that a higher score reflects a positive view of a country, while a lower score denotes less confidence and a higher perception of corruption.

The presence of corruption in any country undermines democracy, equality, the environment and the economy. It lines the pockets of the unethical and robs the general public of money originally paid for better hospitals, roads, quality health care, schools and a better quality of life.

In Greece

Corruption in Greece is notoriously rife at all levels of government. State and local officials go unchecked, ministers elected to Parliament enjoy immunity from prosecution while in office, and a lower administrative court can overturn decisions rendered by the supreme court. There are countless loopholes and no accountability.

Stats show:

– 1 in 5 residents pay a bribe each year to a private or public official
– 26 percent of those surveyed said they were asked to pay a bribe
– 9 percent said they were asked by a hospital or bank to pay a bribe
– 1,313 euros, average bribe paid to a public sector official
– 1,554 euros, average bribe paid to a private sector official
– 613 million euros, total estimated bribes per year paid to private and public officials

According to Ta Nea:

– Rural police paid 100,000 euros in “confidential expenses”
– 77 million euros in secret funds from the Ministry of Public Order were spent by Sept 2007
– There is no accounting of these funds

In building/zoning:

– An estimated 35 million euros in bribes were paid in Attica alone to forestry officials
– An estimated 3.4 billion euros annually is paid solely to speed building approvals
– 800 euros, average bribe paid by each of 12 million people of Greece
– 800 euros x 12 million = 9,600,000,000 or 9.6 billion euros

Bribery in Greece is considered to be a misdemeanor and not a criminal offense, though Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis “heralded” a new bill to change that in February 2008. However, this measure also says that only bribes over 73,000 euros would be punishable. Thus, paying and accepting bribes less than 73,000 euros is perfectly fine.

Ministers promising to root out corruption cannot realistically deliver. They face opposition not only from fellow ministers, but also special interest committees, a bevy of tax dodgers and rich and powerful voters who elected them in the first place.


Bribery law to be made tougher(?)” – Kathimerini
Minister removed after criticizing handling of scandals” – IHT
Imprudence is rewarded, not punished” – Kathimerini
Judges failing to fight graft” – Kathimerini
Trial fixing judges sent to jail” – Kathimerini
Money laundering committee disbanded and replaced” – Kathimerini
Stop the hemorrhaging”  – Kathimerini
Corruption, law and enforcement” – Kathimerini
New Democracy targets graft in 2008” – Kathimerini
More than 2,000 public sector employees charged with corruption” — ANA-MPA

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  Στάθης wrote @ September 25th, 2008 at 12:23

Greece, the one and only African country in europe…

  Vasileios wrote @ September 26th, 2008 at 02:38

Which just proves the point of many greeks living abroad, who do not even considering returning back for reasons other than vacation. Personally, I wouldn’t go back even if my salary was as low as it would have been in Greece. I had to work as an engineer for a privately owned company in Thessaloniki for 4 years and have no words to even describe my experience with the public sector that we had to deal with (Urban Planning – Poleodomia) to my fellow American friends today. It was an unwritten law that you always had to pay someone under the table to have your job done. Our business would openly bribe political figures at the municipality or other public sectors providing “Public Service”.

God bless the greeks, although it’s ultimately their-our fault, because the people consist of the government.

  thundera wrote @ September 27th, 2008 at 22:50

What bothers me most is having to bribe doctors. If you dont bribe good they wont schedule you for an operation, but if you put some money in the pocket of their robe they will schedule you first thing the next morning.They took the Ippocrates oath and apparently they have forgotten everything about it!I have never bribed, im against it and i hope i will never have to do it (unless is a matter or life and death).Im not surprised to see Greece in #5… but at the same time it makes me feel so bad 🙁

  kammeni wrote @ September 29th, 2008 at 03:50

yay!! we are 5th! don’t worry guys…if we keep up the good work i’m sure we’ll be 1st by next year! just be patient! 😀

  Kat wrote @ October 14th, 2008 at 20:49

S – I would never say something that harsh, but what you say has truth to it. P.S. I miss you!

V – Always interesting to get your intelligent insights and hear your experiences. I’ve never paid a bribe, but I know many who have.

T – What you say is true. The first time I met my future mother-in-law, she’d just had a heart attack and we were told by the surgeon that our bribe was “not enough.” So we had to call a cousin at 4 a.m. to bring more money. It’s quite sinister to take advantage of family members at a time when they are worried and vulnerable. In any case, at least she’s OK.

K – LOL! I love your sense of humour. Please visit again. 🙂

  graffic wrote @ October 15th, 2008 at 22:37

@Kammeni:Yeah! We have to keep up with the good work. I guess the next step is to replace the ballot boxes with a recycling bin (don’t forget to be ecological). 😉

@thundera: If the bribe has to be bigger than 200 euros… I’ll take a plane to Spain.

What can I say. A Spanish friend suffered the “Doctor asking for money” thing, and every Greek can tell you that when they took their driving license they were offered to bribe the examiner (ok, Stella lei mono sthn Athina).

What’s next?

  Barbayiannis wrote @ November 1st, 2008 at 03:30

The “doctor’s fakellaki” was the main (not the only) reason I finally decided not to live in Greece. I can live with greasing palms in a country where it’s expected, but when the outstretched palm belongs to the physician that my health and maybe my life depends on, I’m out of there. I won’t put my life and health in the hands of someone I can’t morally respect.

  KT wrote @ November 2nd, 2008 at 15:22

I want to pretend like these statistics do not exist, and ignore them, but that is reality….In my 12 years that I used to live in Greece, there wasen’t a time when my grandparents or family members were sick, and we didn’t have to give doctors fakelaki. I remember a doctor in 97 demanded for 1 ekatomireio draxmes to operate on my grandfather, and last year a doctor asked me for 400euro to operate on my grandmother…Regardless of how much I love Greece, I just dont see how I can raise a family with those type of issues. At least in the States if you dial 911 the fire,ambulance, and police are outside of your house within 5-10 minutes, over there you are on your own.

..Sadly that is how Greece works, and that is why I dont intend on coming back to live permanently, unless I have major connections like a very small percentage of Greeks do.

  Jacenia wrote @ December 12th, 2008 at 12:07

Wow, wow, wow!!!! I fell onto this site by accident, but I”m so glad I found it. I’m amazed with all your stories. I too share your thoughts about life in Greece. I thank my parents for moving here (Canada) and am so grateful that we don’t live in Greece!! I love this country, Canada!! The corruption in Greece disgusts me. Will it ever change?? This country is going down the gutters really fast. Year by year, it seems to be getting worse. This past summer I went for a visit and had the misfortune of visiting a hospital in Patra where my uncle was dying of lung cancer. It was shocking! Dirty, disorganized and depressing. Words cannot describe how awful it was. How much longer can this country go on like this? That’s what I’d like to know.

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