Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Danish far-right MEP ordered to return €400,000

  • Denmark voted no in the referendum (Photo: EUobserver)

Danish nationalist MEP Morten Messerschmidt has been ordered to repay over €400,000 to the European Parliament.

The move follows a unanimous decision on Monday (9 May) by the parliament's bureau, a body that oversees the assembly’s work.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A 13-page internal report, seen by this website, accuses Messerschmidt's anti-immigrant and eurosceptic Danish Peoples Party of mismanaging parliament grants.

But Messerschmidt, who is the party’s outspoken leader, has denied any wrongdoing and says the demand for a refund is politically motivated.

The report, signed off by parliament secretary-general Klaus Welle and dated 26 April, says the Danish Peoples Party siphoned off money from EU grants for its own political ends last year.

The money had been awarded in 2015 to an alliance of far-right groups known as the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (MELD). Messerschmidt sat on its board.

Funds were also given to its political affiliation, the Foundation for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (FELD).

MELD disbanded near the end of last year.

But at its height, it counted among its ranks former MEPs such as Belgian Flemish nationalist Frank Vanhecke from the Vlaams Belang party and Italian Claudio Morganti from the Lega Nord.

Messerschmidt is accused of using some €296,679 given to MELD by the European Parliament to help finance a video, released in April last year, and a follow-up campaign asking the Danes to vote No in a December 2015 referendum on whether to join EU justice and home affairs policies.

The campaign included adverts with slogans like "Keep the opt-out - keep Denmark safe” and “Say no to EU parties' deceit on the Danish opt-out. More Denmark, less EU - it's possible." Messerschmidt himself and the president of the Danish People's Party Kristian Thulesen Dahl featured prominently in the adverts.

"Such promotion is understood as an indirect support of a national party, which is forbidden," notes the bureau’s report.

MELD, for its part, says the video was not linked to the referendum because it had been produced before the Danish government had set an official date.

"It is our interpretation that there cannot be interference in a national election or a referendum that does not exist or is not yet scheduled," it said.

The video had featured a MELD logo with a banner saying vote No in the referendum.

The parliament grant money to MELD had been used to finance boat trips and a €130,000 consultancy fee.

MELD and FELD also helped pay an advertising campaign on EU social dumping, which also featured Messerschmidt and Dahl.

Thulesen-Dahl told Danish radio the party was not subject to the same criteria as other parties because of its critical views of the EU. He also said the case would not have political consequences for Messerschmidt.

EU anti-fraud body to probe Danish party

The Danish People’s Party may incorrectly have spent EU money on meetings that were not clearly divided from national party gatherings.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs join other EU states in rejecting UN migration pact
  2. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  3. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  4. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  5. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  6. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls
  7. Italy defies EU deadline on changing budget
  8. Report: FBI looking into Brexiteers Farage and Banks

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  2. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  3. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  4. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  5. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  6. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  7. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  8. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us