An analysis of a new European Union website designed to give transparency on grants made by the EU has revealed a foreign aid budget of billions of euros including grants which are so secret that they refuse to say what they are.
The “secret” projects totalled some £400 million (€476 million) for some 727 grants given to “undisclosed schemes” around the world.
According to think tank Open Europe, these schemes included £80 million in aid to South Africa and £66 million for “neighbourhood policy” in Moldova.
No details of the grants were given for “security reasons” to show how the money was spent, Open Europe said.
“It is unacceptable for the European Commission to be throwing £400 million of taxpayers’ money down a black hole marked confidential,” Open Europe spokesman Stephen Booth was quoted as saying.
“To make matters worse, the EU is demanding even more money to spend on ludicrous projects that are a complete waste of money,” he said.
The new EU website, called the Financial Transparency System, can be found by clicking here. It allows users to search handouts by country, region, project and year.
Some of the more bizarre projects listed in the database include a dance troupe which performs “spectacular belching”, a travelling model of a fire-breathing dragon and a set of postcards for Euro MPs costing £47,000, according to Open Europe.
The website states that “In certain cases parts of the information displayed on a particular grant or contract may be masked, e.g. for security reasons.”
According to Open Europe, one of these “security masked” grants includes £6.5 million to an unnamed group or individual in Switzerland for “European Neighbourhood and Partnership financial cooperation with Mediterranean countries.”
* The EU Commission has proposed a 5.3 percent rise in the EU’s budget to around £118 billion, all of it drawn from member state’s membership dues — i.e. the taxpayers.
* According to the EU’s own figures, their foreign aid budget to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America is in excess of $50 billion every year.