Hungary has dropped nine spots to 66th place on Transparency Internationalʼs 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index ranking, according to the latest survey by TI released on Wednesday. Hungaryʼs score on the index - on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 the most corrupt - is 45, down from 48 a year earlier.
"This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index highlights that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out," reads the introduction to the survey on the TI website.
The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. This year, the index found that more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average score of 43.
Hungary ranked below its Visegrád Group peers Poland (36th), the Czech Republic (42nd), and Slovakia (54th), as well as Croatia (57th) and Romania (59th). Among EU Member States, only Bulgaria (71st) features lower on the list.
In a review of Europe and Central Asia, Transparency International faulted Hungary, as well as Poland and Romania, for measures by authorities affecting NGOs. It noted that Hungaryʼs government had passed a law that "stigmatizes NGOs based on their funding structures and adds burdensome reporting requirements."
Noting that Hungaryʼs score on the index has fallen from 55 in 2012 to 45 in 2017, it described the country as "one of the most alarming examples of shrinking civil society space in Eastern Europe."
Last year, Hungaryʼs Parliament approved legislation on NGOs requiring full disclosure of foreign funding of over HUF 7.2 million a year. Infringement proceedings begun against Hungary due to its legislation on foreign-funded NGOs was officially put before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) earlier this month.
TI noted that more than 20 NGOs have filed legal proceedings against the Hungarian government in both the Hungarian Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights.
"Looking at lessons from across the region, our regional analysis confirms more civil engagement is needed to hold leaders and governments to account," concludes TI in its regional analysis. "At their core, governments should serve communities and be transparent in their activities, and communities should be able to hold governments to account and have a means to offer constructive input," it added.