Holland risks missing out on EU subsidies

The Netherlands risks missing out on millions of euros of European Union money because of mistakes in the way existing funds are being spent, the national audit office said on Thursday.

Most problems arise from not following EU rules for putting regional infrastructure projects out to tender, the office says. Costs are sometimes declared which cannot be subsidised and essential documents are often missing.
The errors, dating from 2000 to 2006, prompted the economic affairs ministry to improve controls. But these extra checks are also running behind schedule, the audit office says.
If the mistakes continue, it will only be natural for the EU to take steps, the audit office warns.
The Netherlands will also probably have to repay substantial sums to the EU to resolve a dispute over VAT , the auditor says.
It recommends that the Netherlands urge the European Commission itself to increase controls on EU spending and harmonise auditing and reporting for the various EU subsidy funds.
In 2006, the Netherlands received €2.1bn in EU subsidies. Its contribution to the EU totals €6.3bn, making the it the biggest net payer, news agency ANP said.
Christian Democrat MP Frans de Nerée said he plans to raise the issue with finance minister Wouter Bos on Thursday evening. In particular he wants to know how much money the Netherlands has missed out on.
For the audit office report, click here

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