The money was spent inappropriately in agriculture.
Romania will have to pay back to the European Commission the amount of EUR 41.7 M spent inappropriately on projects related to the Joint Agricultural Policy, that is, owing to deficiencies in the system allotting agricultural parcels, in administrative checks and in the application of sanctions.
“By a decision adopted today, the European Commission reclaims the amount of EUR 578.5 M, which was granted by the European Union for agricultural expenses and was spent inappropriately by some of the member states. The money will have to be returned to the EU budget, because European regulations were not met or the procedures to check agricultural expenses were inappropriate,” is stated in a release by the EC referring to several European countires, remitted to Mediafax.
Member states are responsible for the allotment of payments and for keeping a watch on expenses related to the joint agricultural policy, and the Commission is under the obligation to ensure that the member states used the funds appropriately.
“We do everything in our power to perform a thorough check of agricultural expenses, to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is not spent in unwarranted ways,” Dacian Ciolos, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, stated. According to this decision, funds have to be returned by Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Romania was faced with a similar situation this summer, when the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) checked the implementation of 211 projects financed out of European non-reimbursable funds, via the SAPARD Program. Following these checks, a number of irregularities were reported in the running of investments conducted through 17 projects, amounting to a total of EUR 12.74 M. The projects for which debts were contracted were financed under Measure 1.1 – “Enhancing the processing and marketing of agricultural and fish products”, sub-measure 2 – Meat and meat products, within the SAPARD Program. It was found that, in most of the cases analyzed, the acquisition process was purely formal, as the granting of contracts failed to observe the principle of free competition, the quality parameters for the object of the bid and the principle of efficiency in spending the funds.