EU Asks for 115.2 Million Euros in ‘Unduly Spent’ Farm Subsidies

Twenty European Union countries, led by Italy and the U.K., are being asked to return a total of 115.2 million euros ($150.2 million) in “unduly spent” farm subsidies, the European Commission said.

Part of the money has been recovered from member states, leaving 54.3 million euros still to be returned to the EU budget, the commission, the regulatory arm of the 27-nation bloc, said in a statement on its website today.

The EU spent 58.2 billion euros on agriculture and rural development in 2010, or 47 percent of the total budget, according to data from the EU. The commission regularly claims back money for non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate controls on agriculture spending.

“The commission is required to ensure that member states have made correct use of the funds,” it said.

Italy is being asked to refund 57.2 million euros, of which 21.5 million euros remains to be returned, according to the commission. It cited “weakness in the controls” of olive-oil mills and reports on yields in 2005 and 2006.

The U.K. must return 31.6 million euros for the financial years 2007 to 2010 for “weaknesses in the sanctioning system” and inadequate implementation of regulations, with 29.7 million euros still to be recovered, according to the report.

The EU seeks to recover 18.2 million euros from the Netherlands, mainly for a deficient sanctioning system and lack of controls in 2006 to 2009, with almost all of the amount still to be returned, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.

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