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EU Economics

‘Ridiculous!’ Migrant boats idling in port, motorbikes for Niger – how EU spent YOUR money

BRUSSELS was today lashed for splurging taxpayers’ cash on migrant transport boats that sat idling in port and motorbikes for authorities in Niger – but hit back insisting its budget is cleaner than ever.

The annual report into how the EU budget was spent in 2016 chronicles examples of waste and mismanagement, including money for work never completed and a business grant to the subsidiary of a big multi-national.Critics today branded the dossier, published by the club’s own Court of Auditors, “damning” despite claiming the watchdog has been infiltrated by pro-EU figures who are watering down its findings.

However, addressing MEPs this morning the president of the court Klaus-Heiner Lehne said that the bloc’s accounts for 2016 presented a “good and fair view” of spending and that there had been a “sustained improvement” in error rates.

Commercial ferries were used to transport migrants off the Greek islandsGETTY

Commercial ferries were used to transport migrants off the Greek islands


It has traditionally acted as a lightning rod for criticism of the bloc and provide much ammunition to eurosceptics, chronicling mis-spending and inefficiency within Brussels and beyond.

The watchdog regularly raises criticisms of the EU’s accounts, but it has signed them off every year since 2007. This year, it offered a “qualified opinion”, meaning error levels in spending were below the threshold deemed to be “material” to the overall budget.

But despite presenting the most upbeat assessment of Brussels’ financial competence in years, the report still contained some worrying examples of the use of taxpayers’ cash.
In particular controversy has been sparked by one grant to Athens, of a total of £5.3 million, for the transportation of asylum seekers between the Greek islands where they arrived and the mainland.Greek authorities chartered a number of vessels, including tourist boats, to ferry migrants across the Eastern Mediterranean as well as provide them with “snacks” and “accommodation” for the short journey.

However, for 12 days of the project the ships were idling inactive in port with no work to do but still got paid under the terms of their contract, at a cost of £365,000 to the European taxpayer.

On top of that, the auditors raised concerns about the fact the firms carrying out the work – which were already benefitting from an EU grant – charged refugee adults £53 a ticket and children £26 for the trip.

We want to help to make sure that taxpayers are getting value for their money

Court of Auditors president Klaus-Heiner Lehne

EU figures show 150,000 asylum seekers were transported by the scheme over the course of seven months, meaning a potential income ranging between £3.9 million and £7.95 million.The Court of Auditors said: “The income from migrants contributed to the revenues and consequently, to any profits, of the shipping companies. EU legislation does not allow beneficiaries of EU grants to obtain profits from the implementation of a project.”

However, eurocrats defended the spending by saying migrants had been able to benefit from using first class cabins and free food, services not included in the commercial price for the same journey, which was around £79.

Ukip MEP Jonathan Arnott, a member of the EU parliament’s budget committee, said: ”This is one of the most utterly ridiculous examples of EU nonsense I’ve seen during my time in the European Parliament, and believe me it’s got plenty of competition.

“They’re paying boats to stay in port, and then when those boats do eventually travel they’re allowing them to charge refugees for a service that the EU’s already paid for.

“Worse still, the Commission seems to think that it’s all okay despite being a complete breach of the EU’s own rules. It’s not quite as bad as the people traffickers, but when you facilitate companies to profit from the suffering of refugees, it’s a close-run thing.”

And auditors also found evidence that in the environmental LIFE program, costs had been claimed based on an hourly rate based on uncertified timesheets for periods it later turned out had not been worked.

However, Mr Lehne pointed out that this constituted an overall error rate in spending of 3.1 per cent on overall payments of £119.7 billion – down from 3.8 per cent the year before and 4.4 per cent in 2014.

He said: “This is the first qualified opinion we have issued since we began to provide an annual statement of assurance in 1994 and it reflects an important improvement in EU spending.

“Actions adopted by the Member States and the Commission did reduce the overall estimated level of error but we found sufficient information was available to further prevent, detect or correct any errors.

“People want to know what they’ve got for their money. Did it make sense to build a particular road or airport in a particular place? Were jobs and growth actually delivered? Was the money spent wisely? We want to help to make sure that taxpayers are getting value for their money.”

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/859756/European-Union-EU-court-of-auditors-bloc-budget-Ukip

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Jane Davies
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Jane Davies

Therein lies the problem, these people and their cavalier attitude towards the taxpayers money, who claim that more than 300 million is either wasted or unaccounted for is acceptable and even slap themselves on the back that this is ‘down’ from last year leaves me gobsmacked. Time is well overdue to get a criminal investigation going on where the hard earned money handed over by the countries of the EU, creamed off the backs of the workers, has gone over the years because it sure as hell has not benefitted the working poor who pay the taxes and who have… Read more »

Bill
Guest

“However, Mr Lehne pointed out that this constituted an overall error rate in spending of 3.1 per cent on overall payments of £119.7 billion – down from 3.8 per cent the year before and 4.4 per cent in 2014.”

This means 371 million went missing, and thats acceptable? No it is criminal.

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