161.9 million euros in payments under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy has been misspent by Member States and must be reimbursed, says the Commission.
The Commission has found that seven Member States failed to follow Community rules on agricultural spending and has taken the decision to recover the unduly spent money.
The biggest offender is France, which has been charged 85.97 million euros for paying aid to ineligible land and failing to carry out the necessary checks on projects.
Commenting on the decision, taken 27 July 2006, Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture, said: “This is a vital process in ensuring that taxpayers’ money is used properly and that all unduly spent amounts are recovered”.
The EU’s CAP has been criticised for sustaining unprofitable farms at the expense of taxpayers. Domestic farm subsidies paid out by the EU and the US were at the heart of the collapse of global trade negotiations at the WTO (see EURACTIV 25 July 2006).