European parliamentary auditors want a Eurosceptic think-tank to refund €34,000 which was spent on the Ukraine referendum in the Netherlands, the Guardian said on Thursday.
The auditors say the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe, a Ukip-affiliated pan-European think-tank, should hand back the cash which was ‘misspent’ on the referendum.
The auditors’ report has not yet been published and it is unclear exactly what the money was spent on in the Netherlands. However, in April, it was reported that the European parliament was probing a grant from the IDDE which was used by shock blog GeenStijl to buy an advert in the biggest Dutch newspaper.
The advert was part of the blog’s campaign to gather signatures to force a referendum on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine.
GeenStijl trumpeted in a blog post last September that it was using money from the European parliament. ‘It is European money but eurosceptic European money. A big thank you for that Nigel Farage,’ the blog post said.
The European Parliament rules state that the grants it makes to political groupings ‘cannot be used… to meet expenditure such as campaign costs for referenda and elections (except for European elections), and direct or indirect funding of national parties, election candidates and political foundations both at national and at European level.’
In a statement, the IDDE said: ‘It has become increasingly apparent, since Brexit and the Dutch referendum on the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, that anything short of “group think” is no longer tolerated within the European Union. Any deviation will see the rules changed and goal posts moved.’
‘We are confident that our expenditures are fully eligible and compliant with EU regulations. They are also in line with fully accepted activities from other European parties,’ the organisation concluded.
The treasure of the IDDE until last September was Dutch MP Louis Bontes, a former member of the anti-Islam PVV who now represents the right-wing eurosceptic VNL party.
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