Wednesday, 19 December 2007

EU's Common Agricultural Policy subsidies golf courses

For the thirteenth year running, the EU Court of Auditors has refused to approve the EU’s accounts. There are still massive problems in the agriculture budget and in the structural funds – the two areas which make up 80 per cent of the EU’s budget. Some 5 per cent of the money in these funds is missing or was wrongly spent. 12 per cent of the agriculture budget (total: 32 billion euros) should not have been spent, according to the President of the Court of Accounts, Hubert Weber. The causes of this huge misspending lie in incompetence, ignorance and fraud.

In the agricultural budget, in one quarter of the cases studied by the Court, farmers applied for subsidies for land which does not even exist (the more land you have, the more subsidies you get). Some people received CAP subsidies who have nothing to do with agriculture at all: golf clubs, riding schools and even railway companies have been paid money from the set-aside scheme. Even towns have been paid money from the CAP. The worst offenders in this regard are Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

In Germany, the number of recipients of CAP aid rose by 17 per cent in 2006 because in Germany set-aside money is paid whether or not the land in question has in fact been used for agriculture in the past and therefore “set aside”. But Southern Europe continues to receive money for olive trees which do not exist: one quarter of the farmers audited in Italy, Spain and Greece had applied for at least 5 per cent more trees than they actually have.

A lot of money has also gone missing from the 5.2 billion budget for food aid to the Third World, humanitarian aid and support for NGOs. The Commission says it is pleased that this year the Court of Auditors has approved 40 per cent of the budget: the figure was one-third the previous year and only 6 per cent the year before that.

A spokesperson for the commissar responsible for corruption, Siim Kallas (who was himself involved in a huge corruption scandal involving $10 million when he was chairman of the National Bank of Estonia) has said that the money can be recovered from the people to whom it was wrongly paid out. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13th November 2007]

---- An excerpt from John Laughland's Intelligence Digest. For a free e-mail subscription to the Intelligence Digest, please click here ----

1 comment:

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