THE INDEPENDENCE of the judiciary, prosecution of corruption, financing of political parties, use of EU funds and public procurement are the key areas for Slovakia to focus on when tackling corruption, according to a recently published anti-corruption report of the European Commission (EC).

As for the perception of corruption, 90 percent of Slovaks believe corruption is widespread, while 53 percent believe that the level of corruption has increased in the past three years.

The most troubled areas are health care (mentioned by 64 percent of Slovaks), courts (56 percent) and political parties (51 percent), said Andrej Králik from the press department of Representation of the EC in Slovakia.

“The interesting trend is in the personal perception of corruption,” Králik wrote, noting that 40 percent of Slovaks believe corruption influences their daily personal lives, which is 14 percent less than in 2011.

Even though Slovakia has made considerable efforts to improve the legal anti-corruption framework for criminal law and public procurement, several factors still limit the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts, the EC stated in the report summary.

Those factors are mainly problems with legislation, the perceived lack of independence of the judiciary and close ties between politicians and businesses.

The EC suggests that Slovakia strengthen the independence of the judiciary, in particular by specifying criteria for when presidents and vice-presidents of courts can be removed from office.

The EC also suggests increasing the transparency of party funding at local and regional levels. When it comes to the misuse of EU funds, the EC recommends strengthening control mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest.

The report, published on February 3, is the first of its kind, and is aimed at supporting anti-corruption efforts in EU member states, and identifying how the European system can help.

The report is based on data from existing anti-corruption monitoring mechanisms (GRECO, OECD, UNCAC), as well as information from EU countries’ public authorities, civil society, independent experts and academic research.