Monday September 24,2012
By Mark Reynolds
The EU spending has been branded 'farcical'
BRITAIN'S foreign aid gravy train was branded a farce yesterday after it was revealed we are still handing hundreds of millions of pounds to already wealthy countries via the EU.
Despite a Government pledge that taxpayers' cash will only go to needy countries, it emerged that nations such as Iceland and Turkey are still getting funds.
Britain is also indirectly giving cash to China, Russia and Barbados.
A sixth of the money spent by the Department for International Development (DfID) goes to the EU's aid programme.
But the EU is spending about half its £10billion budget on "middle and higher income" states despite Britain's belief that they are too wealthy to merit support.
Brussels has committed £30million to 22 aid projects in China, a country with about 150 billionaires, in spite of DfID's decision to close its Chinese aid programme over a year ago.
With more than 100 billionaires, Russia was also given £40million, including £240,000 for an arts project in St Petersburg.
Other schemes include a Turkish television channel, a tourism project in Iceland and training for waiters on the holiday island of Barbados.
Many politicians believe the situation has now got completely out of hand. Tory MP Dominic Raab, a leading Eurosceptic, said: "It is farcical that the EU spends nearly a billion pounds of UK taxpayers' money and a significant proportion of Britain's aid on middle income countries.
development funds have been plagued by maladministration and fraud. This is a clear example of the folly of moves towards a single European foreign policy."
Pauline Latham, a Tory MP and member of the International Development Select Committee, said: "It is time to renegotiate the amount of money we give to Europe for aid. If the public really knew that our money was going to countries like Turkey, China, Russia, Iceland and Brazil they would be furious."
Even charities have voiced some concern. Christian Aid said it was time to find an "exit strategy" from the current system of spending aid money.
Stephen Booth, research director at think tank Open Europe, said: "That taxpayers' money can be handed over and spent in a way that the Government actively disagrees with perfectly illustrates the lack of accountability inherent in the EU budget.
"In on-going EU budget talks, the Government must seek to re-establish the link between UK objectives and EU spending." Ministers are still planning to increase overseas aid spending to £11.5billion by 2015. But they are coming under pressure to curb aid spending after revelations about where the cash is spent.
Last week it emerged British taxpayers have spent millions of pounds on a new foreign aid HQ in Delhi, where the furniture bill alone is £400,000.
The project is going ahead even though our £280million annual handout to the world's fastest growing economy is likely to stop in 2015.
A DfID spokesman said: "The new Secretary of State will be taking a close look at all DfID spending and has asked for an internal report into the use of independent technical experts.
"We are pressing the EU to re-write its rules to focus aid on value for money and results as part of our current negotiations over the EU budget."
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