Czech Republic perceived as being the third most corrupt country in the EU

A report by the international watchdog Transparency International suggests that the Czech Republic has a serious problem fighting corruption. With a corruption index of 4.3 out of an ideal 10, the Czech Republic is perceived as the third most corrupt country of the European Union.

Other newcomers to the EU have made progress in fighting corruption so what is the Czech Republic doing wrong - or rather -what has it failed to do? We called Michal Sticka of the Czech branch of Transparency International to find out.

"One of the most efficient tools to combat corruption in the political sphere would be an effective conflict-of-interests law. Political parties should be more transparent in financing their activities. When we look at bureaucracy, it should be said that the Czech Republic is still lacking a good civil service law that would govern the civil service sector and if we look at the judiciary, the main problem remains in insolvencies - we need to reform insolvency proceedings."

Now, we've said that this study is based on perception - perception of corruption in different countries - can you tell me how exactly it was conducted and how accurate it is, given the fact that it is based on perception alone?

"It should be said that there is no accurate tool with which to measure the level of corruption objectively. If you look at police or judicial statistics you will only get a notion of how the police and judiciary of a given country are able to prosecute crimes such as bribery. Therefore we need indirect tools and the CPI /Corruption Perception Index/ is one of the indirect tools which helps to measure the degree of corruption in a given country. It is based on data from various surveys conducted by renowned international organizations."

Where do these organizations get their own data from? Are people in the street asked if they think there is corruption in the Czech Republic or if they themselves have attempted to bribe anyone?

"The CPI is draws on data from organizations who survey academics, entrepreneurs and risk analysts, among others. Therefore there should be some elimination of the so called street bias. The street usually follows big scandals, it is usually very sensitive to media coverage of certain political scandals and the above mentioned target groups should be less prone to following the public outcry so to speak."

To what extent do you think reports such as this could damage the Czech Republic in the eyes of potential investors, for instance?

"The CPI score for the Czech Republic hasn't changed much since the beginning of this century so investors may have got used to the level of corruption in this country -given the flow of investments to the Czech Republic - on the other hand recent studies have shown that an increase of one point in the CPI index brings about a 15 percent rise in direct foreign investment to the country in question. So it is definitely better to make progress in curbing corruption - it really pays off."