The European Union is claiming back 426 million euros ($535 million) of farm subsidies “unduly spent” by member states, including 251.5 million euros from Spain, Italy and Greece for wrongly planting wine grapes.
The claims stem from failing to adhere to EU rules or a lack of controls on farm spending, the European Commission wrote in an online statement today. The charges include 71.5 million euros from Greece for “weaknesses in the controls of dried grapes,” the EU’s regulatory arm said.
The 27-nation bloc’s agriculture budget for 2012 amounts to 56.8 billion euros including funds for rural development, its data show. The EU typically withholds reclaimed money from future payments made as part of the Common Agricultural Policy.
“The commission has adopted a regulation allowing member states under financial assistance to delay, on certain conditions, the reimbursement of disallowed funds for up to 18 months,” the Commission wrote.
Spain was charged 131.3 million euros for planting vines without plantation rights, Italy was ordered to refund 98.9 million euros for the same reason and Greece 21.3 million euros, according to the statement. The commission is claiming back 62.9 million euros from France for deficiencies in controls of payments to cattle farmers.
Greece must pay back a further 11.6 million euros for a lack of controls on sugar production and storage. The commission is claiming money from a total of 13 countries, it said.
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