Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Brussels in move to publish data on EU fund recipients

The European Commission is set to demand that member states fully disclose information on recipients of EU structural funds.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports that national governments will be asked to publish detailed data on the recipients, projects and amounts of structural aid cash they receive from Brussels' coffers.

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Structural funds are mainly used for regional policy, designed to boost infrastructure, job creation, local development and small firms' competitiveness in relatively poor regions of the EU.

In the near future, applicants for this kind of EU aid will only be eligible for funding if they agree to provide full openness, according to Brussels' plan.

But beneficiares of the European Social Fund, which also forms part of structural funds, will be exempted from the transparency initiative.

The Social Fund is directed at labour market policies and includes, for example, training schemes and projects insuring women's access to jobs.

Altogether, structural funds amount to about a third of the EU's budget, which will hit € 864.4 billion over the 2007-2013 period.

Brussels' transparency drive, initiated by anti-fraud commissioner Siim Kallas, follows earlier calls by the commission to EU capitals to disclose their registers on the recipients of the – even larger - agricultural handouts from Brussels.

Several member states, such as the UK and the Netherlands, have already made the information available, demonstrating that end-beneficiaries include large European agro-giants as well as UK royals and Dutch agriculture minister Cees Veerman.

But states like Germany say data protection rules prohibit it from following the same route, with Berlin also expected to resist Mr Kallas' latest initiative.

The farm subsidy campaign is also being pursued by NGO farmsubsidy.org, which scored a minor legal victory in Poland last week.

The Warsaw administrative court ruled the Polish CAP agency, AriMR, violated procedure in handling journalist Andrzej Krajewski's request for recipients' names, forcing AriMR to consider the claim afresh.

Freelancer Mr Krajewski started his campaign in September 2005 and has a separate case pending in the civil court.

He has the editorial backing of Polish daily Rzeczpospolita and has vowed to keep fighting all the way to the constitutional court.

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