TI Estonia: Estonia’s stagnant score on Corruption Perceptions Index requires long-term plan to root out political corruption


Estonia has improved its result by only one point in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2020, placing it on the 17th place with 75 points.

The Corruption Perceptions Index analyses the extent of corruption in the public sector and policymaking, as perceived by external experts and the business community. The findings are interpreted on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 refers to a high corruption level and 100 to a very low corruption level.

On a global level, the CPI results have not changed a lot. The average CPI score in 180 countries is a mere 43 points and two-thirds of the countries score under 50 points, a result that is unchanged from 2019. Many countries are stagnating or keep fluctuating by one point to one direction or another which cannot be considered a significant change.

“Although no country is completely clean of corruption, no one could have imagined the beginning of 2021 in Estonia to take such a turn. As the new government has just been formed, Estonia has now a perfect chance to form and execute a long-term plan towards society without political corruption,” commented Carina Paju, the Executive Director of Transparency International Estonia.

Denmark and New Zealand keep their top position with 88 points and Finland comes in third with Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland who all scored 85 points. At the bottom of the CPI are South Sudan and Somalia with 12 points each, followed by Syria (14), Yemen (15) and Venezuela (15). The highest-scoring region is Western Europe and the EU with 66 points whereas the lowest-scoring region is Sub-Saharan Africa with an average of 32 points.

Estonia is doing best out of the three Baltic states, with Latvia scoring 57 (rank 35), and Lithuania 60 points (rank 42). Nevertheless, Estonia is still far behind of its neighbouring country Finland (rank 3). Change takes time and the results of anti-corruption activities are not immediately seen in the CPI which is important to remember. Yet, now is a great chance for Estonia to start taking meaningful steps towards anti-corruption and start the journey to the top.

“At this place in time, we can start by safeguarding openness and transparency in public contracting, enhancing lobby regulation, and strengthening political party finance supervision. These are only some of the tools that could help Estonia to fight against corruption in the public sector and pave the way to rise to the top of CPI,” said Paju.

“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on corruption worldwide - the pandemic has become a corruption crisis as well as a health and economic crisis. Transparency is needed to ensure that public resources are spent appropriately and reach their intended recipients. We’ve seen cases in Estonia where equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines has been questioned. Equal access needs to be ensured during the pandemic which it can be done through openness and transparency of how the vaccines are distributed,” commented Paju.

The full CPI report and country ranking can be found from Transparency International’s website. TI Estonia is an accredited chapter of Transparency International and a leading civil society organization in the fight against corruption in Estonia. TI Estonia’s key fields of activity are to analyse and highlight the risks of corruption, to raise awareness and to enhance cooperation in corruption prevention between public institutions and private individuals.