Auditors expose wasteful EU spending - on trees

19-Sep-2013 @ 13:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs today called on the European Union to take an axe to "frivolous and unfocused" spending programmes after the bloc's auditors levelled searing criticism at a costly scheme supposed to make forests better.

Budgetary-control spokesman Philip Bradbourn said: "This report lays bare the abandon with which the EU Commission hurl huge sums of taxpayers' money at pet projects without ever properly considering what benefit will come in return."

He spoke out after the Court of Auditors published a special report into a seven-year programme of EU support for private forests, which was supposed to improve their economic performance. It found that despite expenditure amounting to a massive €535 million (£451 million), the scheme produced no tangible results.

Auditors identified a series of shortcomings including poor monitoring of how the money was spent and failure to define the economic value of a forest in the first place.

The report was drawn up after an investigation of what happened to millions of euros handed to the owners of private forests in Spain, Italy, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.

Mr Bradbourn, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands said: "Quite why the Commission thought so much extra money was needed by landowners in the first place, I have no idea. What is clear is that this scheme was waved through without an ounce of real thought for how the money might be spent or just what it should achieve. This kind of frivolous and unfocused spending has to stop.

"Sadly, when it comes to sensible use of public money, the Commission too often cannot see the wood for the trees."

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