EU anti-fraud body to probe Danish party
By Lisbeth Kirk
The Danish People’s Party may incorrectly have spent EU money on meetings that were not clearly divided from national party gatherings, according to DR, Denmark’s public broadcaster, and daily Ekstrabladet.
In total €25.000 from EU coffers were spent on party summer-gatherings in 2014 and 2015.
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The meetings were attended by party members and staff only and had no representatives of sister parties in other EU countries present, as should have been the case to qualify for EU funds.
“I can confirm, that the European anti-fraud office is investigating the alleged abuse of EU funds paid by the European Parliament to Meld and Feld”, a spokesman of Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud body, Alina Burea, told DR.
The money was awarded to an alliance of eurosceptic groups known as the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (Meld), which had MEP Morten Messerschmidt on the board. Meld was closed in 2015.
Funds were also given to its political affiliation, the Foundation for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (Feld).
It is the second time Danish People’s Party has come on fire for alleged mismanagement of EU funds.
Last spring the party agreed to refund over €200.000 after the European Parliament found it had wrongly spent parliament grants to produce EU related video 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.
Money was also used to finance a campaign tour by boat and a €130,000 consultancy fee.
Messerschmidt denied any wrongdoing and said the demand for a refund was politically motivated.
MEP Anders Vistisen, now chairing the Danish People's party in the European Parliament, said he would contact the European Parliament administration on Monday (17 October) to seek clarity on whether the summer party gathering programs could be qualified as an EU arrangement, or whether the funds should be returned.
Liberal MEP Morten Loekkegaard expressed surprise that once again a case of possible misuse of EU funds was popping up around the euro critic and anti-immigrant Danish People's Party.
“We are dealing with a party that has been unusually creative in handling EU funds, and I think that must be stopped. It does not suit anyone. We should all tighten our act now to restore confidence in the system and that it is all right to receive support from the EU for political work. It is all right. But you just shouldn’t be too smart, Loekkegaard told DR.
A total of 15 European political parties received grants from the European Union in 2016. The money is meant for political parties to be able to co-operate closer across the borders.
The biggest payment (€8.7 million) went to the center-right European People's Party, while the second largest payment (€7.2 million) went to Party of European Socialists.