Europa Fund must be discontinued

12 January 2008

Europa Fund must be discontinued

SP Member of Parliament and spokesman on European affairs Harry van Bommel is demanding that the Europa Fund distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be discontinued. The ministry is misusing money from the funds for what is disguised propaganda for the European Union, Van Bommel says. He was reacting to a report in the leading daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad that Dutch state television broadcast two programmes last summer on the benefits of the EU, without any mention having been made of the fact that they were made possible by subsidies from the ministry.

Harry van BommelThe Europa Fund is designed to inform the Dutch people about the EU and to promote discussion of its role and influence in the Netherlands. “Yet," says Van Bommel, "the cabinet in reality uses the money to force on to people a one-sided, rose-coloured picture of the EU. And, it now turns out, by devious means."

Saturday's NRC Handelsblad reported that the programmes broadcast in the series EénVandaag on 21st July and 4th August were almost wholly financed from the Europa Fund, the sum involved amounting to almost €200.000. By failing to mention the subsidy, the programme broke the law on media coverage and the ministry went against the directive governing state authorities' relationship to the media, the newspaper said.

Van Bommel intends to demand can explanation of these abuses from Secretary of State for European Affairs Frans Timmermans and to propose that the Fund be discontinued. “The Europa Fund is useless when it has long been obvious that the cabinet has no intention of promoting informed discussion on Europa or helping people to arrive at informed opinions on the matter," he says. "Otherwise it would have supported a referendum on the new treaty. If it had done so it would have sparked off a broad social discussion on the benefits of and need for the EU."

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