Thursday

17th Jan 2019

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.

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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.

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