The current report is an analytical account of the
state of the public’s perception of governance, between
2008 and 2015, in the European Union and
in EU Member States (EU MS). It considers public
integrity as well as general trust and is a test of basic
explanations as well as a hopeful attempt to offer an
alternative approach which will allow more objective
monitoring of governance. The main argument here
is that economic performance alone does not explain
the perceptible decline in trust, although it certainly
renders Europeans more aware of how they are governed
and more sensitive to it. Reduced trust reflects
what Europeans in many member states perceive as
both a decline in the quality of governance and the
failure of current policies to redress it. Only in a minority
of countries in present-day Europe we do encounter
a clear majority who believe that success
in either of the public or private sectors is due to
merit. More than fifty per cent of all Europeans now
believe that the only way to succeed in business in
their country is by exploiting political connections,
with only something fewer than a quarter of all Europeans
agreeing that their government’s efforts to
tackle corruption are effective. The countries where
citizens perceive higher integrity and better governance
are those which have managed to preserve high
levels of trust despite the economic crisis.