Elton John Concert in Italy Falls Foul of EU’s Rules

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Italian authorities must repay 720,000 euros ($985,000) in European Union funding used for a concert featuring Elton John in Naples last year, the EU regulator said.

The European Commission wrote to the authorities in Italy’s Campania region that managed the event and to the nation’s Economy Ministry yesterday demanding reimbursement of the money, EU spokesman Ton van Lierop told reporters in Brussels today.

The concert was part of a festival that received 2.25 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund. John entertained the concert-goers with songs including “O Sole Mio” and “Sacrifice.”

Cultural events can fall under the scope of operational programs, though they have to be aimed at structural, long-term investments, Van Lierop said.

“Our findings are that this was a one-off project, a one-off concert, which could not fall under the scope,” he said.

The procedure used by the previous administration to allocate the funds for the concert was “unusual and vague” said Giuseppe De Mita, deputy governor of the Campania region, who oversees tourism.

“We firmly believe that European funds should be used in a different way,” said De Mita, adding that the region has started a probe into the matter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Clapham in Brussels at aclapham@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net