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Britain asked to repay millions in farm subsidies

Posted on July 5, 2000

By Ananova

Britain is being asked to pay back nearly £12 million to Brussels in misspent farm subsidies.

The European Commission said the clawback is being demanded because of inadequate national controls on the use of the cash and for failing to comply with Euro-rules in flax and hemp production.

The sum is a fraction of the £210 million the Commission is reclaiming from twelve of the fifteen member states for incorrect use of agriculture payments.

They range from £77 million owed by France and £50 million owed by Greece mainly for failing to control the correct use of crop subsidies, to £950,000 owed back by Belgium for distributing subsidised butter for pastry goods to ineligible recipients.

Ireland owes about £8 million because of inadequate on-the-spot checks in the use of arable crop payments.

A statement pointed out that member states themselves are responsible for paying out and checking virtually all spending under the Common Agricultural Policy.

The “clearance of accounts” brings the total reclaimed by Brussels so far this year from all member states to nearly £400 million – with another financial reckoning due before the end of the year.

Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said the procedure was a “strong incentive” to member states to improve their efforts to reduce the amount of financial irregularity.

Britain owes money for sowing flax with a seed variety which is not approved under EU law (£8.4 million); inadequate supervision of on-the-spot checks on arable crops (£3 million); and harvesting hemp earlier than permitted (£300,000).

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