Saturday

22nd Feb 2020

Brussels probes Elton John concert

The European Commission has launched a probe into an Elton John concert in Italy after it emerged officials spent €720,000 of EU money organising the event.

"A concert has been held ... from which the EU was paying money from the regional development fund," commission spokesman Ton van Lierop told a regular news conference in Brussels on Friday (12 November).

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  • Sir Elton John (Photo: stroudm)

"A claim was made by the managing authority [in Italy]. We're looking into this. We want to know why this ... will fall under the operational programme," he said.

The event took place in September 2009 as part of the Piedigrotta festival in Naples.

"Cultural projects and cultural infrastructure can fall under the scope of the regional development fund but there are rules for eligibility," added Mr Van Lierop.

So far there is no suggestion that Mr John - record holder for the world's best-selling single, a version of "Candle in the Wind" - knew of the alleged misuse of EU money.

Hard-right Italian MEP Mario Borghezio of the Northern League called for the commission investigation, brandishing the expenditure as a "shameful use of European funds".

The news comes hot on the heels of fresh criticism over how the EU spends its money by the European Court of Auditors for the 16th year in a row.

Delivering an annual report in the European Parliament this week, auditor chief Vitor Caldeira said there were "material levels of error" in the bloc's spending, especially in the agriculture and the cohesion policy sectors.

The European Regional Development Fund makes up part of the latter.

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