The Center for the Study of Democracy released its latest report State Capture Assessment Diagnostics (SCAD) at a round table in Brussels on 27 June 2019. SCAD is a comprehensive open model allowing the study, measurement and monitoring of state capture risks at national and sectoral level. SCAD combines hard and survey data with contextual analysis, such as media monitoring. It diagnoses country and sectoral risks along three main dimensions: business capture, institutional enablers and environmental enablers. CSD piloted SCAD in five European countries - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, Romania and Spain - each displaying different governance gaps. The pilot diagnostics showed that Bulgaria and Romania were the two countries most vulnerable to capture. In terms of sectors, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply and telecommunications have shown the highest average capture risks across the five countries. Wholesale of pharmaceuticals has also emerged as a high risk sector in some of the countries.
The round table participants noted that unlike a decade ago, state capture is well understood as a policy threat to the EU. This is particularly true in the context of EU enlargement and internal rule of law. In the 2019 semester reports corruption is present as a topic in all 10 countries, including the two countries under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (Bulgaria and Romania).
The round table participants identified the following policy domains where SCAD could be implemented:
- Rule of law. SCAD can underpin or aid the European semester instrument or to the future rule of law instrument.
- Enlargement. Developing a more comprehensive and adaptable system of monitoring anticorruption and good governance in the enlargement context is critical to preserving EU’s international interests and standing.
- Anti-fraud and financial instruments. The EU should be looking for instruments on how to better measure the impact of its cohesion policies and how to better leverage its development aid inside and outside the Union.
The concluding discussion at the round table took a closer look at the way forward. It noted that the EU needs to focus on tangible utility and procedural integrity towards justice, fairness, and the restoration of trust in elected officials. This is a critical contribution SCAD could make. It would strengthen EU’s internal cohesiveness and allow it to better fend off the rising authoritarian tide around in Europe and the globe. The participants recommended that SCAD continues to develop looking into additional questions such as how state capture emerges in the first place; why should everyone be concerned with it; what could be done to tackle it and how the private business sector could help in this process.