New website exposes recipients of EU farm support
By Lisbeth Kirk
A Europe-wide network of investigative journalists will today (1 December) launch a website with detailed information about the end-recipients of EU farm support.
Last year, the European Union spent €43.5 billion on agriculture, more than 40 percent of the whole EU budget. But in most countries information on who gets the money is kept secret.
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The new website, FarmSubsidy.org is for the first time offering the public easy access to this information.
Names and addresses of the farm support recipients and the amounts received are fully available on the website for three of the 25 EU countries - Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.
In England, Northern Ireland and Estonia, names and amounts have also been released, while in Belgium Knack magazine has published information on farm susbidy recipients.
The figures generally illustrate that industries and big farm concerns are receiving the largest handouts.
In the Netherlands the release of the data in August this year caused political uproar, as the Dutch minister of agriculture himself had received about 190,000 euro for his farms in France and the Netherlands, according to International Herald Tribune.
Last year the single biggest pay-check in the Netherlands, to the tune of €4,392,470, was sent to Avebe B.A. In Sweden, the largest single receiver in 2004 was Sveriges Starkelseproducenters Forening, receiving €8,782,684 from the EU coffers, while in Denmark Arla Foods Ingredients A.M.B.A. scored €64,481,121 million.
The information on the website is gathered by a Europe-wide network of investigative journalists, coordinated by the Danish International Centre for Analytical Reporting, (DICAR) and the London-based EU Transparency.
"Transparency is the only way to control if the budget is spent well. The EU should have published this information a long time ago", said Nils Mulvad, co-founder of FarmSubsidy.org and executive director of DICAR.
Efforts the get information released will continue, with several other European countries set to publish the information soon.
The Slovenian Ombudsman recently ordered the publication of Slovenian Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) data and data for some Spanish provinces have been released as well.
Journalists have filed applications for full access to the relevant records in Germany, France, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Finland and Poland, according to DICAR’s legal advisor Henriette Schjoeth.
In Poland, the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights has decided to support the application as part of its strategic litigation programme.