In the media

To combat corruption, “focus on prevention rather than cure”

The Times columnist calls Alina Mungiu-Pippidi’s book Europe’s Burden “compulsory reading for decision makers everywhere”. 

In a column on the losing battle to stamp out corruption in Eastern European “kleptocracies”, The Times journalist Edward Lucas focuses extensively on observations in the latest book by Hertie School Professor of Democracy Studies Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Europe’s Burden (Cambridge, 2019).

Lucas presents Mungiu-Pippidi’s arguments about the historical development of corruption in Europe. He writes that she debunks the narrative of Switzerland as “… having solved the ‘state-building challenge of our time’ with an impartial public administration that balances the interests of linguistic, ethnic, regional and economic interests to promote the general good”. He then traces the development of modern governance from rule-setting in the Napoleonic era to the failure of Western policies in dealing with corruption in Eastern Europe.

“The big puzzle is why such Napoleonic rule-setting interventions have worked so rarely since," Lucas writes. “The key to the problem, says Mungiu-Pippidi, is to focus on prevention rather than cure. Prosecuting the givers and takers of bribes is time-consuming, costly and prone to failure. Rich people hire good lawyers and finding incontrovertible proof is hard. Much better to re-engineer the system so as to reduce opportunities for corruption. The real index of progress is not who gets prosecuted for bribery but who in the civil service gets fired for not running the system properly.”

Lucas says the book should be “…compulsory reading for decision makers everywhere and particularly in Brussels and Washington, DC.”  


Read the column here. (Behind a paywall)

Read about Alina Mungiu-Pippidi’s book.

More about Alina Mungiu-Pippidi