Corruption and Organized Crime in Europe

Paper Info
Page count 40
Word count 10618
Read time 37 min
Topic Law
Type Thesis
Language 🇺🇸 US

Introduction

Background Information

According to the Transparency International, European countries are some of the least corrupt nations in the world. In fact, out of the 10 countries classified as least corrupt in the world, 6 are from Europe (Jardine, 2011). According to Jardine (2011), there is no country in Europe that is classified as highly corrupt. However, this does not mean that there is no corruption in the continent. In fact, according to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), corruption appears to be increasing in some European countries. As such, it is important to explain some of the factors that lead to this development.

Corruption in a few of the Eurasian countries is considered to be one of the highest in the world. According to data from Transparency International, Eurasian countries have some of the highest rates of corruption in the world (Beke, Cardona, Blomeyer, & Sanz, 2013). It is believed that the rate of corruption in these countries is higher than that found in Sub-Saharan Africa. On their part, countries in the CEE region have a rate of corruption that is comparable to that found in Latin America and the Caribbean. The rate is higher than what is higher than what is found in the OECD countries.

Just like their counterparts in the CEE region, countries from South Eastern Europe (SEE) report significantly high levels of corruption. The practice is especially persistent in what MacDonald and Majeed (n.d) refer to as the countries of transition. The reason is that corruption is largely associated with the transition from state-socialism to market capitalism and democracy (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). As such, countries transiting between these different types of governance are likely to report high levels of corruption. A case in point is post-communist countries, such as Russia. In fact, Russia is one of the countries with the highest levels of corruption in Europe. According to Transparency International, the country was ranked number 154 among the most corrupt countries in the world (Jardine, 2011). In 2011, Russia scored 2.1 in the corruption index. The figure put the country within the same league as such countries as Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, and Kenya.

There are several factors that lead to increased corruption among countries in the world, including in Europe. They include, among others, historical, legal, and political factors (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). According to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), the major factors behind corruption in Europe are more economical in nature. To this end, countries in Europe that report high levels of corruption are those in which actual deterrents to this crime are lacking. In addition, these countries lack transparency with regards to the use of public funds (Gounev & Bezlov, 2010). With regards to legal factors behind corruption, the vice is persistent in countries where the bureaucracy put in place is unrestrained. Such countries tend to have lax laws that can be used to deter this crime. When it comes to political stability, those countries in the world that are highly corrupt also tend to report political instability (Gounev & Bezlov, 2010). For instance, Somalia and South Sudan, which are some of the most corrupt countries in the world, are also characterized by political instability.

Corruption can be conceptualized variously. According to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), it can be defined as the misuse of public power for private gains. The crime is detrimental to the economic and social development of any given country. However, in spite of this, the crime still persists, albeit in varying degrees, in every country in the world (Zvekic, 2016). Economists, historians, and other analysts associate corruption with developing nations. However, a number of scandals in the recent past have shown that even the developed nations, such as those found in Europe, are also prone to this crime. For instance, Norway and Sweden, which are clustered as some of the least corrupt nations in the world, have reported increased levels of corruption among state owned entities. Another example is the scandal involving former German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl. The politician and his party were penalized for receiving illegal campaign funding (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). What this means is that corruption exists in Europe, albeit in low levels compared to other parts of the world.

In this research paper, the author will analyze the link between corruption and organized crime. The major focus of this study will be countries from Europe. The paper is a qualitative research that will involve a critical review of literature available in relation to corruption in Europe and its link to organized crime in the region.

Research Objectives and Research Questions

Research objectives

The major objective of this study is to analyze the link between corruption and organized crime in Europe. The following are the specific objectives of the research:

  1. Analyze the most corrupt and least corrupt countries in Europe
  2. Analyze the major types of corruption found in Europe
  3. Analyze the major causes of corruption in Europe
  4. Highlight the link between prostitution, human trafficking, and corruption in Europe
  5. Explore the link between drug trafficking and corruption in Europe
  6. Explore the link between extortion racketeering and corruption in Europe

Research questions

The research questions are closely related to the objectives. The reason is that by responding to the questions, the author will have effectively addressed the objectives of the study. Consequently, the following are the research questions guiding this study:

  1. Which are the most corrupt and least corrupt countries in Europe?
  2. What are the major types of corruption found in Europe?
  3. What are the major causes of corruption in Europe?
  4. What is the link between prostitution, human trafficking, and corruption in Europe?
  5. What is the link between drug trafficking and corruption in Europe?
  6. What is the link between extortion racketeering and corruption in Europe?

Justification of the Study

In 1984, the level of corruption in Europe was at 0.78 in the corruption index (Gokcekus & Bengyak, 2015). However, by 2007, the figure had risen to 2.12. The increase is in spite of the fact that some of the least corrupt countries in the world, such as Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, are found in Europe. Given this scenario, it is important to explore this crime in this continent. The current study will go a long in achieving this objective. Having established the status of corruption in Europe, it will be important to highlight the link between this vice and other forms of organized crime, such as terrorism and drug trafficking. The reason is that these crimes are, as well, on the rise in Europe and other parts of the world. Consequently, it will be informative to find out whether or not the rise in the two forms of crime in Europe is in any way correlated.

Organization of the Research

The study is organized into 5 chapters. Chapter 1 is the introduction, which will introduce the reader to the study. Chapter 2 is a review of relevant literature and theories in this field. The aim is to identify gaps in knowledge that may be addressed by the current study. Chapter 3 is the body of the thesis, which highlights the major areas addressed in this study. Chapter 4 is a representation of the major findings made. Finally, chapter 5 will provide a summary and conclusion of the study, as well as the recommendations made.

Literature Review: Empirical and Theoretical Studies

Literature Review: Empirical Studies

A general overview of corruption

According to Graeff, Sattler, Mehlkop, and Sauer (2014), corruption can be conceptualized as dishonest and unethical undertakings by an individual entrusted with a position of authority. Such individuals include officials, including police officers and politicians. The aim of such an activity is to promote the individual’s personal gains at the expense of other people. There are different forms of corruption in today’s society. Each form of this crime is perpetrated with a particular objective in mind. The various forms include, among others, bribery and embezzlement. However, it is important to note that corruption may include practices that can be viewed as legal in some countries (Graeff et al., 2014).

Scales of corruption

According to Mantzaris, Tsekeris, and Tsekeris (2014), corruption takes place in different scales. To this end, it may include small favors among a small cluster of people. A corruption in such a scale is what Mantzaris et al. (2014) refer to as petty corruption. The vice may also take place in government institutions on a large scale, leading to what Mantzaris et al. (2014) refer to as grand corruption.

Petty corruption: In the view of Gokcekus and Bengyak (2015), petty corruption takes place on a small scale. Gokcekus and Bengyak (2015) observe that this form of corruption is mainly associated with the delivery of public services. It occurs at the point where public officials come into contact with members of the public seeking services. A case in point is when police officers and officials dealing with the registration of persons receive bribes to expedite the services sought by members of the public.

Grand/large scale corruption: According to Zvekic (2016), this form of corruption takes place at the highest echelons of government. The crime calls for systematic insurrection of legal, socio-economic, and political systems. According to Gounev and Ruggiero (2012), the crime is commonly found in countries with authoritarian and dictatorial government structures, such as Russia. The nature of the government makes it easier for the officials to bend the rules put in place to check for wastes and mismanagement of public funds. Such countries are also associated with weak structures that can be used to manage corruption.

Systemic corruption: According to Gounev and Ruggiero (2012), this is also referred to as endemic corruption. It is brought about by the weaknesses found in the structure of an entity or process. There are several factors that promote endemic corruption in both developed and developing nations. They entail, among others, conflicting incentives, lack of transparency, and impunity (Gounev & Ruggiero, 2012).

Corruption in Europe: A review

According to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), corruption is a growing threat in Europe. Some European countries report relatively high levels of corruption, while others, such as Denmark and Sweden, can be described as relatively clean. Corruption is like a viral infection. It spreads fast within one country and across borders. When viewed against this background, it is apparent that the European countries that are corrupt will report increased incidences of this crime, while those that are relatively clean may get “infected” by their neighbors. To support this assertion, it is reported that most Europeans in studies conducted between 2005 and 2009 believed that the crime is a major problem in the continent (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). The fears of these citizens are further supported by the number of scandals reported in some of the European countries over the years. The countries include Finland, Malta, and Spain.

Zandstra and Ballegooij (2016) identify some of the factors leading to the rising levels of corruption in Europe. The elements include, among others, lack of deterrent mechanisms and absence of transparency with regards to public spending. A study conducted by the Eurobarometer in 2009 report that most Europeans are concerned with the rising levels of corruption in this continent (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). For instance, in the study, about 94% of Cypriots are of the opinion that corruption is endemic in the country’s public sector. According to the respondents, one of the reasons behind this rise in corruption is the fact that appointment to public office in the country is not based on merit. In addition, the rule of law is ignored by those in public office (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). A similar study conducted in 2010 by the Global Corruption Barometer paints an identical picture in Portugal. According to the study, 83% of citizens in Portugal believe that corruption increased tremendously between 2007 and 2010 (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). The two studies above and others conducted in this field is a pointer to the fact that Europeans can no longer continue ignoring corruption in this continent. Governments and other stakeholders need to come up with strategies to arrest the situation.

Corruption and organized crime

According to Zandstra and Ballegooij (2016), organized crime involves highly centralized entities operated by criminal elements. The major objective of such groupings is to carry out illegal activities aimed at generating revenue and profit for the partakers. Others, such as terrorist organizations, are motivated by political and religious objectives. Organized crime can take the form of international, national, or local groupings. There are several strategies used by organized criminals to carry out their activities. Such strategies include intimidation, for example, when the groups extort money from traders in order to provide them with protection (Mantzaris et al., 2014). Another strategy entails compromising and intimidating police officers and other public officials to help the gangs carry out their activities.

According to Beke et al. (2013), corruption is regarded by analysts as one of the defining attributes of organized crime. However, it is important to note that not all forms of organized crime involve corruption. For instance, health insurance fraud may entail extensive organization on the part of the criminal without necessarily having to resort to corruption or violence. In spite of this, most forms of organized crime come with corruption. A number of empirical studies conducted in this field support this assertion. For instance, the Eurobarometer conducted two studies in 2006 and 2008 to discern how members of the public perceive the relationship between organized crime and corruption. According to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), the studies found that on average, 54% of Europeans are of the opinion that organized crime is the major cause of corruption in the continent. In addition, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers and other agencies have carried out empirical studies to explore how corruption affects business organizations. The studies have found that a number of business organizations have suffered from corruption brought about by organized crime (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d).

Empirical studies conducted in Europe have identified several forms of corruption that are closely related to organized crime. One of them involves judicial corruption, which touches on the strategies used by organized gangs to abuse the judiciary (Beke et al., 2013). Most studies on judicial corruption in Europe highlight the link between the autonomy of the judiciary and influence from politicians. For instance, according to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), corrupt politicians and officials in the judiciary protect the mafia from prosecution in Italy. Judicial corruption has also been reported in Poland. For instance, in early 2000s, a group of officials from the judiciary in Torun frequented a club that was operated and visited by known criminals (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). Another form of corruption that is closely linked to organized crime has to do with political corruption. For instance, former law-enforcement officers in Bulgaria are known to have resorted to organized crime. The officers use corruption to perpetrate their crimes. It is also believed that members of organized gangs assume key leadership positions in some European countries. With the help of the influence that comes with their political perch, these leaders protect their colleagues in the organized criminal gangs (Beke et al., 2013). To further support this point, it is noted that in 2007, about 18 regional councilors in Reggio Calabria were investigated for their links with criminal gangs in the country. The councilors were believed to have ties to the mafia, one of the well known organized gangs in Italy and in Europe (Beke et al., 2013). Organized crime is also associated with corruption among police officers in Europe and other countries around the world. For instance, in a study conducted in the Netherlands, it was found that organized gangs buy confidential information from corrupt police officers. The gangs are also provided with protection, helping them to engage in drug trafficking and other forms of organized criminal activities (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d).

Corruption and Organized Crime: Theoretical Studies

An overview

A number of theoretical postulations and studies have tried to explain the various causes of corruption in Europe and other developed and developing countries around the world. Some of the theories revolve around historical, legal, and political factors as the major causes of corruption. For instance, with regards to history, it is believed countries transiting from dictatorial to democratic forms of governance are more likely to be corrupt compared to those that are already established democracies. In addition, countries with weak legal structures are more likely to be corrupt compared to those with strong legal structures and institutions. With regards to political factors, it is believed that nations that are politically stable are less likely to be corrupt (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). For instance, Transparency International ranks Somalia and South Sudan as some of the most corrupt nations in the world. It also happens that the two countries are politically unstable.

Theoretical studies: Legal, political, and historical causes of corruption

Legal theories and cause of corruption

According to Graeff et al. (2014), it appears that corruption thrives under unrestrained bureaucracy. However, the vice can be contained and managed effectively if the existing laws are adequately enforced. It is also important to note that in situations where the political establishment is regarded as illegitimate by the citizens, the social pressures needed to curtail corruption are largely disregarded. What this means is that the political establishment has to be considered as legitimate for it to be able to fight corruption.

Mantzaris et al. (2014) and MacDonald and Majeed (n.d) are of the opinion that the degree of corruption in any given country is largely dependent on the extent to which the legislations in the country are enforced. To this end, it is important to note that perpetrators of corruption are rational beings. As such, they are able to weigh the economic benefits of the vice against the associated costs. The costs in this case may involve the legal implications of their corrupt dealings. When the benefits outweigh the costs, the officials will continue engaging in their corrupt acts. The legal costs associated with corruption include persecution, incarceration, and loss of one’s employment. As such, the legal structures put in place must be deterrent enough. For these reasons, countries associated with judicial laxity are likely to be more corrupt compared to those where the judicial and legal systems are vibrant (Mantzaris et al., 2014).

It is noted that theoretically, the legal strengths or weaknesses of a given nation are closely related to the reported levels of corruption. What this means is that if the law appears to protect some people while discriminating against others, corruption will most likely increase. Governments have to ensure that the citizens identify with the institutions put in place to legislate and resolve disputes (Mantzaris et al., 2014). When this happens, corruption is likely to reduce. Theoretical studies show that a strong rule of law is associated with reduced corruption.

Historical causes of corruption

Theoretical studies have also identified history as another reason behind escalation in levels of corruption in Europe and other countries around the world. However, it is important to note that the association between historical development and corruption is not straight forward. In spite of this, theories are proposed to the effect that historical precedents and customs mould institutions in a given country. In addition, the antecedents and customs create the social norms in the country (Zvekic, 2016). To this end, established practices and norms are hard to do away with. However, the same practices and norms may be regarded as corrupt by agents external to the country. What this means is that corruption may be a normalized undertaking in the country. It is a socially acceptable way of doing business. As a result, over time, bribe givers are accustom to the practice of offering money in exchange for services that they are not supposed to be paying for in the first place.

It is also possible that institutions and enforcement mechanisms in old countries are well entrenched (Zvekic, 2016). What this means is that corruption becomes hard to take root in such countries if this is the case. As such, it is important to take into consideration the history of the country when analyzing levels of corruption therein. It is also important to note that established democracies report reduced levels of corruption among public officials. The opposite is the truth in most countries that are moving from oligarchy and other despondent forms of governance to democracy. Along the way, the legal structures become blurred and enforcement agencies and mechanisms operate in an environment that is always shifting and which is not very certain. For instance, corruption is low in established democracies, such as Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. However, the vice is rampant in young democracies and other countries moving towards democracy, such as Kosovo, Latvia, and Russia.

Political stability and corruption

As earlier indicated in this paper, political stability is a significant variable impacting on reported levels of corruption in a given country. The assertion is supported by various theoretical studies conducted in this field. For instance, according to a study conducted by Transparency International, corruption thrives in an environment that is politically deficient (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). To this end, it is noted that well established democracies enhance political competition among the various players in this field. As a result, transparency and accountability to the citizenry is increased. The net effect is that corruption is drastically reduced in such nations (Beke et al., 2013).

Democracies are largely associated with political stability. What this means is that a country whose levels of democracy is higher tends to be more politically stable compared to a country where the level of democracy is low (Beke et al., 2013). The stability encourages public officials, such as politicians and civil servants, to be open and honest. The openness and honesty is required to advance the careers of these individuals (Beke et al., 2013). It is for this reason that officials in countries that are politically unstable, such as Somalia, are highly corrupt compared to those in other countries where political stability prevails, such as Italy.

Rational choice theory, game theory, and corruption

According to Chabova (2016), the rational choice theory can be used to explain corruption in both developed and developing nations. According to this theory, human beings are rational beings. To this end, they take into consideration the benefits and costs associated with their actions before engaging in a given activity (Chabova, 2016). A course of action with more benefits and less costs is highly attractive to the individual actor. The opposite is true, meaning that an action that has more costs and less benefits is less attractive to the actor. To this end, the person taking a bribe has to weigh the benefits and costs associated with the act of taking the bribe. When the monetary and other gains are higher than the costs, the official is more likely to engage in the vice. According to Graaf (2007), corruption thrives in instances where individuals believe that the benefits of the act outweigh the expected costs.

Game theory is closely related to the rational choice theory when it comes to the explanation of corruption. The former analyzes the decision making process undertaken by a social actor when dealing with another person (Graaf, 2007). The game theory explains the evolution of norms that can be used to deal with corruption. According to a theoretical study conducted by Bendor and Swistak and cited by Chabova (2016), social norms are basically behavioral rules that are supported by sanctions. As a result, if an individual violates the social norm, they are ostracized by other people in the community. Corruption can be viewed as a violation of the norms established in the society. When this happens, the individual is likely to be shunned by other members of the community if at all the social norm (integrity) is supported by sanctions.

In relation to game theory, some theoretical researchers argue that corruption may be beneficial to the society. For instance, in instances where the laws are unfair and promote unequal access to public services, corruption comes in to level the playing field (Chabova, 2016). For example, corruption in developing countries helps the economic networks to run smoothly, making it beneficial.

An Empirical and Theoretical Research Study Exploring the Links Between Corruption and Organized Crime in Europe

Research Design

Overview

The current study assumed a qualitative research design. To this end, the researcher will conduct a critical review of literature available in the field of corruption in Europe. The study, as already indicated, will focus on the link between corruption and organized crime in Europe. The model for the empirical study that was selected is highlighted in Appendix 1. The model is divided into 6 distinctive layers. Moving from the outside to the inside, the layers include the philosophy, where a choice was made between positivism, interpretivism, and realism. The second layer was approach, where the author chose between inductive and deductive approach. The middle layer has to do with strategies. The strategies include archival, survey, case study, and action. The fourth layer entails choices, where the researcher chose between quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods of research. The fifth layer entails the time horizon. To this end, the study will adopt either a cross-sectional or a longitudinal research design. Finally, there is the data collection and data analysis methods to be used in the study. A detailed explanation of the empirical research design is highlighted below:

The selected model for the empirical study

Research philosophy

As already indicated, the researcher had to make a choice between positivism, interpretivism, and realism philosophies for the current study. A detailed analysis of the philosophies is indicated below:

Positivism

According to Gilson and Levinson (2012), positivism can be viewed as a philosophical system dealing with rationally justifiable ideas. According to this school of thought, all assertions that can be justified in a rational manner can be verified using science. As such, logical and mathematical proof should be provided to support the assertions made. To this end, this philosophy is against metaphysics and theism (Gilson & Levinson, 2012).

Another way of looking at positivism is to view it as a theoretical framework postulating that laws should be conceptualized as social rules (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). To this end, the validity of the rules is based on the fact that they are enacted by authority. In addition, they emanate from logical decisions that are in existence. Laws against corruption can be viewed from this perspective. It is important to note that ideal and moral elements should not be used to curtail the application of the law in question. To this end, one cannot argue that the laws against corruption are unjust and as such, they should be abandoned and people engage in unabated corrupt dealings.

According to positivists, human society operates on a set of general rules and regulations (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). When viewed this way, it becomes apparent that the society operates more or less like the physical world. The physical world is governed by such laws as the law of gravity and relativism. Similarly, there are certain laws that govern the operations of the human society. With regards to corruption, it is noted that countries have put in place laws meant to manage the escalation of corruption in their jurisdictions. From a positivist point of view, such laws can be regarded as efforts to run the society. Positivists reject introspective and intuitive knowledge. Similarly, metaphysics and theology are rejected. A number of theorists are associated with positivism. They include, among others, Emile Durkheim and Auguste Comte (Gilson & Levinson, 2012).

Interpretivism

In social science, interpretivism involves an approach that is opposed to positivism (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). Positivism is more concerned with natural sciences, while interpretivism entails a focus on social sciences. According to Gilson and Levinson (2012), interpretivism, as the name implies, involves interpreting various elements of the study being conducted. To this end, it entails integrating the human interests into the research.

Researchers who use interpretivism in their studies adopt a naturalistic approach of data collection and analysis. What this entails is interviews with subjects. It also involves observation of the subjects in their natural settings (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). However, secondary sources of data, such as literature review, are also used in interpretivism. When this happens, meanings are created and emerge towards the end of the research process.

There are several differences between positivism and interpretivism. For instance, positivism regards reality as a singular, tangible, and objective phenomenon (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). On its part, interpretivism treats reality as a socially constructed phenomenon that is characterized by multiplicity of elements. The major objective of positivist researchers is to explain a given phenomenon with the help of strong predictions. For instance, a social reality and phenomenon, such as corruption in Europe, can be explained using predictions based on various factors. On its part, the major objective of interpretivism is to understand, as opposed to explaining, phenomena. In addition, the predictions made in interpretivism are weaker compared to those made in positivism. The major focus of positivist research is phenomena that are general, average, and representative (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). On the other hand, interpretivism focuses on phenomena that are specific, unique, and deviant. It is also important to note that positivist studies lead to the generation of laws, while interpretivism are more concerned with norms and social rules that are used to govern the human society.

According to Gilson and Levinson (2012), interpretists believe that reality is derived from meanings created by human actors. If corruption is taken as a reality in the society, interpretivism will view the phenomenon as a creation of meanings brought about by human interactions in the society. Furthermore, it is assumed that human actions are brought about by the meanings of the individual. The actions are not the result of external forces. To this end, it can be assumed that corruption is an innate thing that is not brought about by external forces, such as economic hardships. The assumption may be problematic when explaining corruption, considering that the society exerts considerable influence of the human actor. As such, the society within which the individual engaging in corruption is operating exerts influence in relation to the rules and regulations put in place to sanction human behavior (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). Finally, interpretivism uses qualitative data, while positivism focuses more on quantitative data.

Realism

According to Baron and Manfred (2010), realism in research is concerned with the autonomy of reality from the subjective nature of the human mind. There is direct and critical realism. The former portrays reality through the senses of the individual social actor. On its part, the latter assumes that social actors experience the stimulations associated with the real world. The stimulants include images and sensations. However, critical realism argues that these stimulations are deceptive. The reason is that they fail to portray the real world (Baron & Manfred, 2010).

The philosophy selected for the current study

The current study used a combination of both positivism and interpretivism philosophies. The reason is that the researcher found a combination of elements from the two philosophies that were helpful to the achievement of the objectives of the current study. In addition, the weaknesses of one philosophy were effectively cancelled out by the strengths of the other philosophy.

To this end, the current study was carried out on the assumption that human society operates on a basis of various objective social facts. Such facts can be defined from the perspective of corruption, which is a social reality in the community. The laws put in place to manage corruption can be viewed as being objective in nature. However, at the same time, social reality is derived from the meanings created by social actors as they interact with each other (Baron & Manfred, 2010). For instance, viewing corruption as a social and economic evil is a meaning that is created by human actors. Positivism comes in considering that society has influence on social actors. The rules put in place to combat corruption mean that individuals carry out this activity in secrecy (Baron & Manfred, 2010). As already indicated, interpretivism assumes that human actions result from the inherent meanings of individuals. The actions are not influenced by external forces. The statement is half true as far as corruption is concerned. The reason is that external forces, such as political instability and economic hardships may force an individual to engage in corruption. However, at the same time, it is true that the individual has to interpret the corruption inherently before engaging in it. To this end, they interpret it as a means of benefiting themselves either economically or socially (Chabova, 2016).

Positivism relies on quantitative data that is used to test hypothesis and assumptions made in a given study (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). However, the current study will use qualitative data, making it an interpretative research. The qualitative data will be derived from literature review.

Research approach: Inductive versus deductive design

According to Baron and Manfred (2010), deductive research approach entails working from the general to the specifics. It can be viewed as a top-down approach to research. The figure below highlights the path that is generally followed in deductive research:

Deductive research
Figure 1: Deductive research

On the contrary, inductive research adopts a bottom-up approach. It involves moving from the specifics to the more general (Baron & Manfred, 2010). The figure below is a representation of inductive research reasoning:

Inductive research
Figure 2: Inductive research

From the two figures above, it is apparent that deductive is the complete opposite of inductive research. According to Baron and Manfred (2010), the major objective of deductive approach is to test a theory. For instance, with regards to the current study, the researcher may decide to test the theory of how political instability leads to corruption. To this end, the researcher will begin by identifying the theory, coming up with a hypothesis, making observation, and finally confirming the theory. The confirmation may involve proving whether or not political instability really causes corruption. An inductive approach will take the opposite route. It will start by making observations regarding corruption, for example, in a given country. The observations are then followed by an identification of patterns. For instance, the researcher may observe that countries transiting from dictatorial modes of governance to democracy are more corrupt compared to those that are already established democracies. The observation in this case is political transition. On its part, the pattern involves the fact that countries that are transiting from the different forms of governance are more corrupt compared to those with stable and established governance structures (Graaf, 2007). The identification of pattern is followed by the establishment of a tentative hypothesis. The hypothesis in this case may be that countries moving from dictatorial to democratic forms of governance are more corrupt compared to those that are already established democracies. Further research is then carried out either to confirm or disconfirm this theory. What this means is that inductive approach involves the generation of a new theory based on the data and information generated. On its part, deductive approach involves testing an already established theory.

It is also noted that a deductive approach to research will usually begin with a hypothesis (Baron & Manfred, 2010). On its part, an inductive research design involves the use of research questions to narrow down the scope of the study. It is also important to note deductive research focuses more on causality of events. On the contrary, inductive research is more concerned with the exploration of new phenomena. It is also more concerned with the exploration of a phenomenon that has been studied in the past, but from a different angle (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). With regards to the current research, the author may opt to explore the phenomenon of corruption in Europe from a different perspective.

Finally, it is noted that inductive research involves the use of qualitative data. However, on its part, deductive research uses quantitative data to test the hypothesis and theories identified before the beginning of the research. In spite of this, it is important to take into consideration the fact that some qualitative studies may adopt a deductive approach (Baron & Manfred, 2010). The reason is that there are no set rules governing the two elements of research.

The current research will adopt an inductive approach. To this end, the author will try to generate new theories based on the observations and information collected. What this means is that the author will try to generate new theories regarding the links between corruption and organized crime in Europe. The inductive study will begin with observations of the phenomenon, which is corruption in Europe. Patterns to depict the link between corruption and organized crime in Europe will be noted through the observations. Consequently, a tentative hypothesis touching on the associations between corruption and organized crime in Europe will be developed. Finally, the author will come up with a theory explaining how corruption and organized crime in Europe are related.

Research strategy: Archival, survey, case study, and action

According to Baron and Manfred (2010), archival research entails extraction of information from archival records. It can be a primary form of research as it uses primary sources of information. The researcher accesses the information from archives held by governmental, business, or private institutions. The information may also be held by families and other agencies. It is important to note that the information is archived by the institution or body that originally generated and accumulated it. There are several advantages associated with this form of research. To begin with, it provides informative and unbiased information that is highly accurate. The reason is that the information is gathered from the original archives. However, the design is also problematic considering that it is complex and time consuming. In addition, the researcher may face problems when identifying, locating, and making sense out of the archived documents (Gilson & Levinson, 2012).

On its part, survey is mainly concerned with human subjects. To this end, the researcher lists down a number of questions that are posed to the respondents either through an interview or through a questionnaire (Baffour, King, & Valente, 2013). The aim of the survey is to extract specific information from a group of people. The major aim of this research design is to gauge the opinions and attitudes of the respondents. For instance, with regards to the current study, the researcher may opt to administer a questionnaire on a group of people to gauge their feelings towards the connection between corruption and organized crime in Europe. The questions posed to the subjects are predetermined by the researcher. As such, the design may be limited as it may make it hard for the researcher to further explore information or responses provided by the respondents.

Another research strategy that can be adopted entails a case study. To this end, the researcher focuses on a group of persons or a situation that needs to be studied (Baffour et al., 2013). The aim of this research strategy is to gather information that can be used to describe the behavior of the group as a whole. As a result, the researcher is not restricted to the behavior of the individual making up the group. On the contrary, they use the behavior of the individuals to paint a picture of the entire group.

According to Baffour et al. (2013), there are different types of case studies that a researcher can choose from. The first is the illustrative case study. The case is generally descriptive in nature. What this means is that the researcher uses a few instances of a given event to illustrate an existing situation. For instance, a researcher may use instances of corruption in two or three European countries to highlight the existence of this crime in the continent. Another one is the exploratory or pilot case study (Baffour et al., 2013). To this end, the author condenses a number of case studies before carrying out a large scale investigation of the phenomenon. The major objective of this case study is to create questions and come up with measures that can be used in the main study. However, this strategy has a major weakness considering that the preliminary findings may seem very convincing to the researcher. As such, the researcher may be tempted to release them prematurely and treat them as conclusions. The third one is cumulative case study. The objective of this strategy is to collate information gathered from several cases at varying time periods. As such, the researcher is able to generalize without incurring additional costs as all they need to do is expand on the previous cases. Finally, there is the critical instance case study (Baffour et al., 2013). The aim here is to analyze a number of cases in order to highlight a phenomenon that is of unique interest to the researcher. The major objective is not generalization. According to Baffour et al. (2013), critical instance case studies are important when responding to questions concerning cause and effects.

Case studies helps one to generalize the findings to a given group or population (Gilson & Levinson, 2012). For instance, one can analyze corruption and organized crime in Europe by using one or two countries, such as Italy and Latvia. The two countries will be treated as case studies. The findings from the two case studies will be used to describe Europe as a whole and, in extension, corruption and organized crime in developed nations.

According to Baron and Manfred (2010), action research is carried out with the aim of providing a solution to a problem that is of immediate concern. A case in point is when a study is carried out to provide strategies that can be used to arrest the escalating levels of corruption in Europe. In this instance, corruption is regarded as a problem that is of immediate concern to the government and other stakeholders in Europe. Baron and Manfred (2010) identify two major types of action research. The first one is participatory. In this case, the researcher collaborates with other researchers and stakeholders to conduct the researcher and come up with a solution. For instance, the researcher may bring on board the European Union, individual governments, anti-corruption agencies, and other interested stakeholders, such as citizens. The other one is practical action research. Unlike the participatory, practical research does not necessarily require the participation of other stakeholders.

The current research will adopt an archival and case study research strategy. To this end, the researcher will access archived information from such sources as libraries, government agencies, anti-corruption agencies, and the European Union. The archived data will be analyzed to highlight the link between corruption and organized crime. With regards to case study, the research will focus on the link between corruption and organized crime in developed nations. Europe will be used as a case study to represent developed nations in the world. Specific case studies of corruption and organized crime in targeted European countries will be provided. Information on the specific case studies will be collated with that of the larger case of Europe to come up with a clear picture of how corruption is related to organized crime in developed nations.

Research choice: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods

Quantitative research involves the use of primary data generated from survey instruments, such as questionnaires (Baron & Manfred, 2010). The quantitative data is then analyzed to test a given set of hypotheses. With regards to the current study, the author may opt to collect primary data using questionnaires administered on people who are knowledgeable about corruption and organized in Europe. The subjects may include government officials, anti-corruption czars, and citizens. The data will then be analyzed to identify the links between corruption and organized crime in Europe. One advantage of quantitative research choice is that it tends to be more accurate compared to other strategies. The reason is that the personal biasness of the researcher is eliminated in the process of interpreting data. To this end, the data speaks for itself and the researcher separates their objective opinions from the findings made. However, the research design is expensive and time consuming to execute. It also requires extensive knowledge on data analysis.

On its part, qualitative research choice, as the name suggests, entails the use of qualitative data (Baffour et al., 2013). The data may be generated from interviews and literature reviews. The data is organized thematically to respond to specific research questions and objectives raised at the beginning of the research. For instance, for the current study, the researcher may opt to analyze existing literature on corruption and organized crime in Europe. To this end, the link between the two phenomena is established. One major advantage of the approach is that it is fairly cheap to carry out. However, it may be time consuming considering that the researcher will require to access and analyze large volumes of data.

Mixed research method, as the name implies, entails combining the quantitative and qualitative research designs in one study (Baffour et al., 2013). For instance, the author may opt to analyze the link between corruption and organized crime in Europe by conducting interviews with key informants and conducting a literature review. The two approaches will generate qualitative data. The data can be combined with information collected quantitatively using questionnaires and other survey instruments. The major strength of this approach is that the weaknesses of one approach are cancelled out by the strengths of the other approach.

The current study will adopt a qualitative research design. Information will be collected using a critical review of literature in the field. To this end, the author will analyze materials on corruption and organized crime in Europe. A link between the two will then be created. The resources will be collected from online data bases and from the university and local library.

Time horizon: Cross-sectional versus longitudinal research

According to Baffour et al. (2013), cross-sectional studies are commonly used in medical and social science studies. They are observational in nature and entail the assessment of information and data collected from a population or a sample at a specific point in time. In relation to the current study, the author may opt to conduct a cross-sectional study by analyzing the links between corruption and organized crime in European countries during the Second World War. In this case, the Second World War will be used as the specific point in time. As such, information falling before or after the war will not be included in the study.

A longitudinal study is different from the cross-sectional approach considering that data is collected over a long period of time (Baron & Manfred, 2010). As such, the researcher is not limited to a particular point in time. For instance, the researcher may decide to conduct a study on the link between corruption and organized in Europe between 1940 and 2010. In this case, data is collected over a long duration of time, often decades.

The current study will adopt a longitudinal approach. To this end, the researcher will analyze the relationship between corruption and organized crime in Europe over the years. The researcher will not be restricted to one specific point in time.

Data collection and data analysis

For the current study, data will be collected using a critical review of literature on corruption and organized crime in Europe. The resources will be accessed from various sources. The sources include the university’s library and online databases. A number of inclusive and exclusive criteria will be used to select the resources that will be used in the study. The data so collected will be analyzed against the set objectives and research questions of this study. What this means is that the data will be interpreted in such a way that it responds to the research questions identified in the introduction section and addresses the objectives set for this study.

Unit of Observation and Unit of Analysis

Unit of observation

According to Gilson and Levinson (2012), a unit of observation can be described as the subject or object about which data is collected. It is the subject or object that forms the primary focus of the research. The unit of observation for the current study is Europe as a continent. To this end, the researcher will collect information about corruption and organized crime in Europe.

Unit of analysis

Baron and Manfred (2010) define the unit of analysis as the major entity that is being analyzed in a given research. It is the “what” and “who” of the study in question. The current study has two units of analysis. The major and primary unit of analysis is corruption. The secondary unit of analysis is organized crime. A thread will be established between the two by highlighting the connections between corruption and organized crime.

Source of Information

As already indicated in this paper, data will be collected using a critical review of literature in the field of corruption and organized crime in Europe.

Databases and search engines used

The following databases and search engines were used to access the resources used in this study:

  1. Google Scholar
  2. JSTOR
  3. Elsevier
  4. The local library and the university library

The researcher accessed information archived in these databases concerning corruption and organized crime in Europe.

Search terms and phrases

A number of key search terms and phrases were entered into the databases and search engines above in order to access the archived data from therein. The aim of the search terms and phrases was to make sure that the resources collected were relevant to the research. The following combination of search terms and phrases was used:

  1. Corruption in Europe
  2. Corruption+ organized crime in Europe
  3. Most corrupt countries in Europe
  4. Theories and causes of corruption
  5. Most corrupt agencies in Europe

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

The above search terms and phrases generated a large volume of resources from the databases and archives selected. As such, a number of exclusion and inclusion criteria were used on the collected to resources to ensure that only those that are relevant to the current research are used in the data analysis section. To this end, resources that focused on corruption and organized crime in Europe were included in the study, while those that did not were excluded. In addition, the researcher focused on resources that were published between 2007 and 2017. The aim was to ensure that the data used was up to date.

Data Analysis and Ethical Considerations

Data from the resources selected was analyzed and organized in topical form to respond to the research questions. With regards to ethical considerations, the researcher ensured that all information from external sources was adequately referenced using the APA style of referencing. The aim was to avoid plagiarism and taking credit for the information generated by other scholars.

Findings

Introduction

The major objective of this study was to analyze the links between corruption and organized crime in Europe. The following were the research questions that the study sought to respond to:

  1. Which are the most corrupt and least corrupt countries in Europe?
  2. What is the link between drug trafficking and corruption in Europe?

In this chapter, the researcher will respond to the questions raised above. The information from the selected resources is the one that will be used to respond to these questions.

Which are the most Corrupt and Least Corrupt Countries in Europe?

Most corrupt countries in Europe

According to MacDonald and Majeed (n.d), there is no specific method for gauging levels of corruption in countries around the world. The reason is that the vice is actively hidden by those who take part in it. For instance, most individuals will not willfully disclose about their participation in giving out or receiving bribes. However, in spite of these challenges, anti-corruption agencies have come up with a Corruption Perception Index. The index is used to gauge the level of corruption in a given country. However, it is important to note that the index reflects estimates and perceptions held by people in the country, and not necessarily a reflection of the reality. Countries are ranked from 100 to 0. In this scale, 100 stands for a country that is very clean, while 0 stands for a country that is highly corrupt. As such, the lower the score, the more the corrupt the country is (refer to Appendix 1).

As already indicated in this study, some of the cleanest countries in the world as far as corruption is concerned are to be found in Europe. However, there are also those countries that are still corrupt and are found in Europe. Below is a list of 5 of the most corrupt nations in Europe:

Bulgaria

As of 2016, Bulgaria was the most corrupt nation in Europe according to Transparency International (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016). According to the anti-corruption agency, the country scored 41 in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The figure places it position 69 in the world. According to Zandstra and Ballegooij (2016), the figure was 2 points below what the country had scored in 2014. In other words, considering that a lower figure represents increased corruption, it is noted that the level of corruption in this country increased between 2014 and 2016. The increase was in spite of the fact that the country is a member of the European Union.

Italy

The country is the 2nd most corrupt nation in Europe. With a score of 44 in the CPI, the country is ranked position 61 in the world. However, it is important to note that the figure is an improvement considering that the country had scored 43 in 2014. As such, it is apparent that the level of corruption in Italy decreased slightly between 2014 and 2016 (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016).

Romania and Greece

Romania and Greece were ranked number 3 in the most corrupt nations in Europe’s scale. With a score of 46, the two countries were position 58 in the world. According to Zandstra and Ballegooij (2016), the figure was an improvement of 3 points compared to the score of the two countries in 2014.

Slovakia, Hungary, and Croatia

The three countries are ranked position 4 with a score of 51 in the CPI. According to Zandstra and Ballegooij (2016), Slovakia had improved by 1 point compared to its score in 2014, while Croatia improved by 3 points. However, the figure was a decline of 3 points on the part of Hungary. The three countries were position 50 in the world as of 2016.

Latvia

The country scored 55 points in the CPI as of 2016 (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016). The figure remained unchanged between 2014 and 2016. It was ranked position 40 in the world.

Least corrupt nations in Europe

Denmark: As of 2016, the country had a score of 92 out of 100 in the CPI (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016). The score makes it the least corrupt country not only in Europe, but also in the world.

Finland: With a score of 89, Finland is the second least corrupt country in Europe and the 3rd in the world.

Sweden: The country has a score of 87. The figure makes it number 3 in the least corrupt nations in Europe, and position 4 in the entire world (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016).

Norway and Switzerland: As of 2016, the two countries were ranked the 5th least corrupt countries in the world with a CPI of 86. The figure makes the two the 4th least corrupt nations in Europe (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016).

The Netherlands: With a score of 83, the country is 5th least corrupt nation in Europe (Zandstra & Ballegooij, 2016). The figure makes it the 8th least corrupt country in the world.

The Link between Corruption and Organized Crime in Europe: A Case Study of Corruption and Drug Trafficking

According to Gounev and Bezlov (2010), drug trafficking is one of the major sources of income for organized criminals operating in Europe. The market for cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and other illegal drugs in the European Union stands at between 55 and 100 billion Euros (Gounev & Bezlov, 2010).

To perpetrate their trade in illegal drugs, organized gangs compromise customs officials, police officers, and other agents employed by the government to curtail the movement of drugs across borders in Europe. For instance, according to Gounev and Bezlov (2010), most street peddlers in the Netherlands and Spain operate freely. The police officers appear to focus more on middle-level distributors.

Most of the heroin traded and consumed in the Europe originates from Afghanistan (Gounev & Ruggiero, 2012). Such countries as the Netherlands and Belgium, which are some of the least corrupt in the world and in Europe, play a crucial role in the distribution of this drug in the European Union. The criminals achieve this by bribing customs officials, police officers, and prosecutors. Some public officials come together in these countries to protect the criminals and help them distribute the drugs in Europe and other countries across the world, such as the UK. However, the fact that most of the public officials are “incorruptible” makes it hard for these gangs to operate in Europe. In spite of these, the few officials that can be corrupted make it easier for the gangs to thrive. In these countries, organized gangs factor in the cost of paying off the public officials for protection.

Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Summary and Conclusion

The findings made in this study reveal that corruption and organized crime share a mutually reinforcing relationship. As such, governments and other stakeholders involved in the fight against these two forms of crimes should tackle them together (Beke et al., 2013). It was revealed that organized crime thrives in countries where levels of corruption are high. A case in point is terrorism, which is one of the most devastating forms of organized crime in the 21st century. The crime thrives in countries that are politically unstable, such as Somalia and Iraq. The political instability leads to increased levels of corruption in the country as the governance structures become weak. Terrorists find it easier to operate under such conditions. They are able to bribe public officials to help them assemble, access weapons, and plan attacks under minimal disruptions.

The study also revealed that the most corrupt nations in Europe also tend to have a thriving network of organized criminals. A case in point is Italy, which is regarded as one of the most corrupt nations in the European Union (MacDonald & Majeed, n.d). It is noted that the mafia and other organized gangs operate from Italy. They are able to compromise police officers and establish base within the country. With the base set in a stable foundation, the mafia and other organized criminals can expand their operations to other countries in Europe and other parts of the world.

The current study found that the impacts of organized crime and corruption in Europe and other countries around the world are hard to gauge (Jardine, 2011). The reason is that these activities are illicit and are not reported to the authorities and other concerned stakeholders. However, most empirical studies have established that countries in the European Union lose between 210 and 280 billion Euros per year due to corruption and organized crime. As such, the government cannot afford to continue ignoring these crimes.

The study also found that some of the cleanest countries as far as corruption is concerned are to be found in Europe. The countries include Denmark, which is the least corrupt country in the world. Others are Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. One of the major factors behind the cleanliness of these countries is their established governance structures (Graaf, 2007). For instance, these are some of the politically stable countries in the world. However, in spite of the fact that the least corrupt countries are found in Europe, corruption still exists in the continent. One thing that points to this is the fact that none of the countries, even Denmark, scores a perfect 100 score in the CPI ranking, which is an indication of zero level of corruption. Denmark scores 92, meaning that there is still a chance of 8 out of 100 for corruption to thrive in the country. Furthermore, some countries in Europe score far much less in the CPI scale. They include, among others, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Slovakia, and Romania. Furthermore, empirical studies conducted in this field reveal that most citizens feel that corruption has increased in Europe in the recent past. What this means is that as much as Europe continues to preach to other countries from the altar of anti-corruption, the countries in this region need to remain proactive to ensure that the level of this vice within their jurisdiction does not increase.

The current study identified some of the main causes of corruption in Europe and other countries around the world. An analysis of empirical and theoretical studies established that legal, political, and historical factors are largely to blame for increased levels of corruption in Europe. To this end, countries with weak legal structures are more prone to corruption compared to those with stronger legal structures. The reason is that weak legal structures make it easier for organized gangs to compromise government officials, further increasing the level of corruption (Beke et al., 2013). In relation to political stability, it was found countries with unstable political structures are more corrupt compared to those with stable governance structures. A case in point is Somalia and South Sudan, which are ranked as some of the most corrupt nations in the world. The countries also happen to be some of the political unstable nations in the world. History also plays an important role as far as corruption and, to some extent, organized crime are concerned. For instance, in some dictatorial regimes, corruption is viewed as a normalized way of life. As such, criminal gangs are able to flourish as the social sanctions that should ideally check their operations are missing. The locals may view the corruption as a way of life. Related to this, some analysts argue that corruption does play a beneficial role in some countries where inequality prevails. In such cases, corruption makes it easier for economic systems to operate and function (Graeff et al., 2014). To this end, corruption, more or less, helps to distribute economic and social services in the society.

Recommendations

Going by the findings of the current study, a number of recommendations are made. The recommendations are meant to help in policy formulation and implementation in Europe and other countries around the world. The following are some of the recommendations:

  1. It is noted that corruption is not the preserve of developing nations. Whereas it is a fact that developed nations, such as Europe, are less corrupt compared to their developing counterparts in Africa and Latin America, the governments should not relax. Continued efforts are required to ensure that the countries maintain their low levels of corruption.
  2. Corruption and organized crime share a mutual relationship. To this end, organized crime appears to thrive under an environment where corruption also flourishes. As such, governments should fight the two crimes together.
  3. Countries in Europe should develop data collection tools to help in the fight against corruption. To this end, corruption surveys should be carried out regularly to determine the extent to which this vice has being dealt with in the society.

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EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 24). Corruption and Organized Crime in Europe. Retrieved from https://essaysincollege.com/corruption-and-organized-crime-in-europe/

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Work Cited

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EssaysInCollege. (2022) 'Corruption and Organized Crime in Europe'. 24 May.

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