Ministry to pay bill for subsidy stop

Junior social affairs minister Henk van Hoof is faced with a €450m bill after losing a court case over EU subsidies for unemployment projects. The appeal court ruled yesterday that Van Hoof had not properly communicated his decision to close the European Social Fund subsidy desk and must now honour late applications.

Van Hoof announced his decision to stop allocating subsidies on October 28 2005 after it emerged the total demand might top the €1.5bn that had been made available. The formal announcement was not published until November 1 and in the intervening few days, hundreds of applications were made.
The court said all those applications must now be processed.
The social affairs ministry set aside €240m to cover the extra costs in its 2007 budget. A spokesman for Van Hoof pointed out that not all requests would be approved.

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