SP: stop misuse of taxpayers’ money

5 December 2010

SP: stop misuse of taxpayers’ money

Taxpayers’ money is being misused on a massive scale in the EU. ‘It is unprecedented that at a time when European governments are having to impose massive cuts, taxpayers’ money intended for weaker regions is going directly and in huge quantities to multinationals, the arms industry, and even the Italian mafia,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong in reaction to the results of an investigation by the Financial Times into the European structural funds.

The aim of the structural funds is to give a stimulus to weaker regions,’ De Jong explains. ‘This investigation shows that what we actually have is a perverse system in which tax moneys are pumped back and forth, and where capital-rich corporations and countries are the first to benefit from them. ‘So in the Netherlands for instance, IBM, together with Nuon and Cisco, received €646,542 from the funds in order to reduce the energy consumption of five hundred Amsterdam households. Almost all major Dutch energy firms as well as banks have been able to receive financial support for the training of their call-centre personnel, while McDonalds in the Netherlands got €543,222 for training staff. Even the Italian mafia turns out to have got its hands on a large slice of European subsidies. In the first ten months of this year, the Italian police have dealt with 769 criminal cases involving the misuse of €320 million in structural fund moneys. So, for example, €2 million earmarked for the restoration of a church went straight to the mafia. The Italian police estimates that the mafia annually receives € 1.2 billion.’

The investigation comes, in the SP’s view, at just the right moment. In Brussels detailed discussions are under way regarding the EU’s future budget, a discussion in which Dennis de Jong is heavily involved as a representative of the European Parliament. ‘It is incomprehensible that there are still people calling for more money to go to Europe,’ he says. ‘Let’s address these faults in the system first. That could in itself make a difference of billions of euros.’

The structural funds are, at a total of €347 billion, the second costliest EU budget line. The Financial Times, together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, conducted an eight-month long investigation into the 646,000 recipients of these funds. ‘It’s good that the bureaucratic mystification of these funds has been lifted,’ says De Jong. ‘It is of course notable that the European Commission, which claims to be transparent, could not provide this itself.’

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