While Euromoney Country Risk contributors have become slightly more wary of graft across most of Europe, which is inevitable given the increased economic adversity and biting fiscal austerity afflicting the region, the declines in corruption scores for the eurozone periphery have been noticeably larger.
During the past couple of years, all five peripheral countries have seen their corruption scores plummet Portugal leading the charge, with a 1.4 point drop since 2010, followed by Italy (down 1.3) and Ireland (1.0).
Of that group, Ireland is still considered the least corrupt (scoring 7.1 in June 2012) and Greece the most (3.7).
However, Ireland is now perceived to have a higher corruption risk than Chile, France and the US, contrasting with the most recent Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International (TI), which points to Ireland as less corrupt.
The TI survey also asserts that Taiwan and Slovenia are more corrupt than Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Not so, according to ECRs experts, who perceive all three eurozone sovereigns to have a higher risk of graft.
While TI has recently acknowledged the problems in southern Europe, which it puts down to deficits in public sector accountability and integrity, these problems have been flagged by ECRs contributors over the past few years.
Investors need to be particularly wary of Portugal, according to ECRs survey, which has seen its ECR corruption score slip below Cyprus and Spain lately, highlighting the gap between legislation and practice in southern Europe and concerns over the transparency of Portugals privatization process.