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EU wasting billions on aid

The European Union has been criticised for wasting billions of taxpayer’s money on useless aid projects.

The EU’s financial watchdogs, The Court of Auditors said the EU is failing to track how the aid money is spent.

The auditors claim the European Commission backs random aid projects without looking at where aid is needed most.

About £1.4 billion of the EU's £10 billion aid budget comes from Britain, but there are few checks in place to make sure corrupt countries spend it sensibly, the auditors found. Also, the amounts of aid countries get mismatches how much they need it. In 2009, Turkey was given £500 million in EU aid – twice as much as Afghanistan.

One example is the EU paying for poverty-stricken people in Burkina Faso – where half the people survive on the equivalent of less than 70p a day – to have dance lessons. "In reality, young Africans, like young Europeans, want education, including studying literature at university,” said Ceri Dingle from global education charity, Worldwrite.

Other projects given EU aid money include an immigration advisory centre in Mali being given £8.8 million to help people find work in Europe, which has found only six people jobs over the past three years. There was also a medical store built with aid cash in Sierra Leone, to enable pharmacists to hand out free medicines, which has been left derelict and is used as a urinal.

Large chunks of aid money have also been given to some governments, such as Malawi, where people can be jailed for 14 years for homosexuality. The east African country is in line for £450 million of EU aid money over five years. And after it got its latest instalment, its president Bingu Mutharika bought a plane, the Daily Mail reported.

Uganda meanwhile, where most people live in extreme poverty is set to get £407 million over five years. Its president, Yoweri Museni lives in a £100 million home and has just bought a jet.

"The EU's aid needs to be far more transparent, results-focused and targeted at the poorest people,” said Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, calling for strong reforms on the way the EU spends aid money.

EU aid has always been bedevilled by corruption and waste but lessons have not been learnt,” said Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory MP and former MEP. “They continue to support questionable projects and corrupt regimes at a time when national governments are tightening their belts.

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