The European Union's Home Affairs Commissioner has warned that levels of corruption in member states are eroding trust in democratic institutions.

Cecilia Malmstrom said the scope of the problem varied between the EU's 28 member states, but said none was unaffected by it.

An anti-corruption report issued by the European Commission has concluded that corruption prosecutions in Ireland should be processed more quickly.

The commission said that corruption cost the European economy at least €120bn a year.

76% of Europeans think corruption is widespread and more than half thought that it had increased over the past three years.

According to a eurobarometer survey that accompanied the report, about 81% of Irish people believe corruption is widespread and almost half believe it has increased in the past three years.

However, only 3% said they had paid a bribe or expected to pay a bribe last year.

The report found that although the Government had undertaken substantial reforms in the anti-corruption area, there were still some concerns over the funding of political parties, election and referendum campaigns.

There were also corruption risks related to conflicts of interest at local level, as well as in the area of urban planning.

The report also found that criminal trials for corruption cases in Ireland should be processed faster.

The report harvests existing findings from a number of sources on the question of corruption.

Following five years of financial crisis, there is a wide perception that corruption is a major economic and political problem.