Van Bommel seeks clarification over use of funds for EU constitution campaign

7 November 2005

Van Bommel seeks clarification over use of funds for EU constitution campaign

The government financed the campaign for the European constitution in part from funds supposedly earmarked for international cooperation, funds generally used for operations in favour of peace, according to cabinet papers leaked to the daily newspaper De Volkskrant. Reacting to the news, SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel said: “This is misuse of taxpayers' money and is in conflict with the rules governing spending.”

Shortly before the referendum on the EU constitution the cabinet withdrew € 3.5m to pay for TV ads, leaflets and suchlike. This money was taken from funds earmarked for the so-called Homogeneous Group for International Cooperation (HGIS). Earlier, the cabinet had withdrawn € 2.3m from the same fund and used it to publish sections of the text of the European constitution. According to De Volkskrant, they did not see this as “campaign moneys”.

HGIS resources are meant to finance development cooperation (0.8% GNP) and international cooperation (0.3% GNP). In 2005, a sum of € 22.8 was available for international cooperation, of which € 19.3m was to be spent on operations in favour of peace. The SP does not accept that the publication of a magazine containing sections of the EU constitution can be included in the category of international cooperation and doubts the legitimacy of such spending.

The SP is demanding the swiftest possible clarification from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Harry van Bommel, leader of the No campaign, has already spoken out against the 'war chest' established by the cabinet when it became clear that they were looking at defeat. “Dipping into funds designed to promote peace makes the term 'war-chest' ironically appropriate,” said Mr van Bommel. “Unless the government can come up with some convincing explanation then I would say that an investigation by the General Accounts Office into spending on the referendum is needed.”

You are here