In Malta, the Pro-EU supporters call misspent money corruption. In Europe, it is called error.

In this article published in the Daily Telegraph, the columnist reveals that misspent money is not called corruption in Europe but simply an error. Malta is not among the countries listed to have misspent EU funding.​ Projects giving millions of money were mentioned in this article as an example of how EU funds are misspent. If these stories had happened in Malta, all the pro-EU supporters would have called the European Union to investigate our country for corruption.

The irony is that the EU is more than ready to finance with our tax individuals and media outlets in Malta who intentionally want to harm the island by misreporting facts. In my opinion, this is also fraud that needs to be investigated. It is time that Politico starts investigating so that EU auditing is also done on those Maltese individuals receiving funds from the EU to harm others by manipulating media reports.

Billions of euros in European Union funds are being increasingly misspent, according to a report by the bloc’s financial watchdog. 

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) said errors in cash paid out from the EU Budget had “increased significantly” last year.

They found money from Brussels being misspent both in the bloc and in foreign countries. In one case an Italian farmer received money to maintain an orchard of lemon trees on a large part of his land, but a visit by auditors revealed the area had not been in agricultural use for years.

In Poland, a chemical company received a grant for a pilot production line for eco-friendly chemicals. After that project was completed, the company started using the line for commercial purposes. The company broke EU rules by declaring the whole cost of the line for co-financing rather than just depreciation costs. That meant “a significant part of the support granted for this project was non-compliant with state aid rules,” the report said.

The EU spent €196 billion (£169 billion) in 2022, of which 4.2 per cent was spent inappropriately or erroneously compared with 3 per cent last year. Two-thirds of the audited spending, equivalent to 1.3 per cent of the gross national income of the 27 EU member states, were considered at risk by the ECA in its annual report into the bloc’s finances.

For the fourth year in a row, the auditors found that the level of error was “material and pervasive”. They issued an adverse opinion, which indicates a widespread problem, on the spending.

The watchdog also scrutinised €46.9 billion of spending from the EU coronavirus economic recovery fund and issued a qualified opinion, which means problems have been identified.

An audit of an EU-funded project in Spain to buy face masks at the start of the pandemic found Spanish authorities used emergency laws to award the contract directly rather than go through usual procurement procedures, but failed to carry out required checks. The audit found one of the contractor’s administrators had a criminal conviction. The masks were not delivered by the deadline of the end of April.

In Italy, a Berlin-funded cultural centre was still not open to the public three years after it was renovated, and equipment and furniture delivered to it. When auditors visited, they found only a poster referring to building work in progress. Technology for a media library had been delivered in 2019 but it had still not been opened.

Auditors also visited sites outside the EU, which had received funding from Brussels. The European Commission (EC) had partnered with an international organisation for a €17 million programme to support technical vocational training. However, when auditors visited one school, they found the laboratory equipment bought under the agreement was not being used. Some of the items were still in storage and unopened, while others were missing.

Another EC agreement with an international organisation to give school children healthier food in Malawi was worth €19 million, with €16 million paid by the EU. The organisation rented a warehouse and charged €33,000 to the project, including €4,700 in VAT. However, deductible VAT is not classified as eligible expenditure and should not have been charged, the auditors said.

Auditors found problems in 11 out of 13 post-pandemic recovery grants paid out in 2022. Other errors found in money linked to EU programmes included 14 cases of suspected fraud. The report said the EU had liabilities of €577 billion, assets of €455 billion, and debts and exposure of €344 billion, which is likely to increase as more loans and aid are sent to Ukraine.

Auditors blamed the need to spend EU funds before they expire for the increased errors. Countries have until the end of this year to claim funds from the previous budget cycle and coronavirus funds must be spent by 2026.

Tony Murphy, the president of the ECA, told the Politico website: “The issue this time is that there’s so much more money around to be spent within a short period of time.” 

He added that this increased “the risk of either errors, or suboptimal projects, or, at the worst end of it, it means fraud as well”.

Frank Furedi, executive director of the MCC Brussels think tank, said: “If auditors wrote such a damning report about a business, its chief executive and directors would be expected to resign.”

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