Taxpayers and communities not getting value from European fund

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance.
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MILLIONS of pounds of British taxpayers’ money is being spent on “wasteful” projects funded by the European Commission, economic watchdog the TaxPayers’ Alliance claimed.

The European Development Fund (EDF) comprises of voluntary contributions from EU members totalling €22.68 billion, and in 2013/14 the UK provided just over £400 million.

But the Alliance believes the funding is being misspent, after it analysed how the fund had been distributed between 2010-2013.

Based on today’s exchange rate, in 2013 some £173,364 was given to the Nafasi Arts Space NGO in Tanzania, which among other projects ran a course for local people to join artists and learn how to make art from plastic bags.

Another £152,293 was spent on a Fit for Life programme in the same country, which included weekly trapeze, acrobatics, and juggling lessons.

Some £134,312 was used to boost wildlife tourism in Swaziland in 2012; £130,435 to a Danish management firm to provide media and communications support for an EU delegation in Jamaica; and £126,933 was spent on a “Pacific Coconut Development” study.

Three separate grants totalling £233,537 were made to “confidential” projects in Belgium in 2011, the Alliance found.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is a perfect storm of government waste and European inefficiency. Too many of the projects funded through the EDF neither deliver value for money for taxpayers nor deliver sustainable development in the places that need it most. Enough is enough.

“The UK Government must reconsider its support of this programme, as clearly too much money is simply being wasted.

“Even more worrying is the lack of transparency. It is totally unacceptable for the Commission to simply write off spending as “confidential,” making it almost impossible to monitor whether British taxpayers’ money is being spent properly.”

A spokeswoman for the Government’s Department for International Development said: “The vast majority of the EU’s aid is delivering real results on the ground and following pressure from the UK, it is now more focused on the poorest and most fragile countries. We will continue to demand that all their aid meets the same high-standards that Britain’s does.”