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Anti-corruption protests in Bulgaria last October. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Corruption is a growing concern for voters in Europe, with respondents across the 27 EU member states twice as likely to think it's getting worse (32%) in their country than getting better (16%), according to a Transparency International survey.

The big picture: As you move south and east, the concerns grow more acute. Huge majorities in countries like Croatia (92%), Bulgaria (90%) and Slovenia (84%) view corruption as a big problem versus 16% in Finland and 12% in Denmark.

  • Respondents in Central and Eastern Europe tend to think that corruption is getting worse or at best staying the same, per the poll.
  • Zoom in: In Bulgaria, often ranked as the EU's most corrupt member, 48% of respondents said graft was growing worse, 19% paid a bribe to obtain a public service over the past year, and 17% said they knew someone who had been asked for sex to obtain an essential service.

Driving the news: The Biden administration used its first major anti-corruption action earlier this month to target six Bulgarian power brokers and 64 companies linked to them for sanctions — effectively stepping onto the EU’s turf to do so.

  • A week later, European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruța Kövesi arrived in Bulgaria for her first mission abroad since her office was launched at the start of the month.
  • She urged Bulgarians to report serious corruption-related crimes to a newly created EU body empowered to prosecute suspected perpetrators.
  • The latest: This week, the Bulgarian Finance Ministry published a blacklist of 21 individuals and 33 companies linked to businessmen and politicians who have been sanctioned by the US.

What to watch: The concerns about corruption have major political implications. A new anti-establishment party with a focus on fighting corruption just took a narrow lead in the polls ahead of Bulgaria’s parliamentary elections on July 11.

Go deeper

Aug 31, 2021 - World

70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

Staffers at a Vacci-Bus wait for vaccination seekers in July at the Place des Martyrs in Brussels. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the EU one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressman criminally charged with lying to feds

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has been indicted on charges he falsified records and lied to federal investigators probing an illegal foreign donation scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Driving the news: DOJ says a Fortenberry associate, who later cooperated with investigators, informed him he'd likely received illegal donations from an intermediary for a foreign national, but that Fortenberry denied any knowledge of such a scheme when contacted by the FBI.

"Assassin's Creed," but for schools

"Viking Age: Discovery Tour." Image via Ubisoft

For the third time since 2018, Ubisoft is releasing a nonviolent version of its latest “Assassin’s Creed” game as part of a unique effort to turn one of the medium’s most popular series into an educational tool.

Driving the news:Viking Age: Discovery Tour” transforms last year’s “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” from a bloody 150-hour game about Viking conquest in 9th century England into a peaceful four-hour game about merchants and monks.