By Justin Dunn
THE European Union is ripping you off – yes YOU, dear reader.
EVERY pint you buy, EVERY petrol tank you fill, EVERY warm shop-bought pasty you eat – tax from it gets sent to Brussels.
In fact, Britain sends £53m a DAY to our unelected masters in the Belgian capital – so what on EARTH are they spending it all on?
Weekend Sport has discovered that apart from showering THEMSELVES in our tax money, it seems the EU – at the behest of the mighty European Commission – is blowing countless MILLIONS on truly crazy schemes.
We visited Brussels a week ago at the invitation of North West MEP and UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall, who provided us with a dossier of information about some of the EU’s dodgier deals.
Handing it to me, he said: “Wait till you get a load of this - I promise you won’t believe your eyes. But every word of it is true.”
WARNING - If wasting YOUR hard-earned cash on madcap schemes that you have NO control over is likely to make you angry, you might want to look away NOW…
* In February 2009, £347,365 was given to Hungarian IT firm Gyrotech Commercial and Supplier Ltd for a hydrotherapy system “to improve the lifestyle and living standard of dogs”. It was never built – the firm used the cash to build new offices instead, which remain empty.
* That same year the EU awarded a £4,439,882 contract to a chauffeur company to ferry MEPs around Strasbourg – where they spend just 40 days a year. The firm, Birbin Limousines, boasts on its website that if offers “a confidentiality clause guaranteeing absolute discretion”.
* Not all the grants are huge. Farmers in the Tyrolean area of Austria were awarded £13,531 from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in order to “increase farmers’ emotional connection with the landscapes they cultivate”.
* A cool £761,268 was awarded to the already successful Strelasund Golf Park in Germany – whose guests have included the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Located in an area of high unemployment, spending on the course – that employs just 18 people – was lauded as “best practice” use of EU funds.
* In Andalucía, Spain, £6,343,832 was awarded to regional government “to reinforce the message of the achievements in Andalucia thanks to EU funds”. It included an agreement with public service broadcaster Canal Sur TV to have the sun in its weather reports depicted using the stars of the EU flag.
* The EU’s “Socrates” programme – total budget £145,461,315 – included funding for people to learn new languages through “virtual” swimming “races” where competitors had to learn phrases like “catch a taxi to the pool” in Italian, Hungarian, Finnish and Slovenian.
* £4,312,005 was spent on buying the Foyeen Europeen in Luxembourg – home of the Cercle Culture des Institutions Europe, a network of clubs and societies that EU employees can use featuring restaurants and Scottish Highland Dancing and wine tasting clubs, among others.
* Two Swedish fishermen were awarded £422,698 to scrap their boats as part of the EU effort to reduce the continent’s fishing fleet. The pair were left with enough cash left over to go out and buy two brand new, state-of-the-art fishing boats.
* A staggering £7,184,700,986 grant to improve infrastructure in Sicily failed completely, including a useless new water supply system, just eight kilometres of new railway track and an utter failure to improve refuse collection.
* In 2009, the EU spent £37,184 on parties celebrating the entirely fictitious “Europe Day”, which saw Eurocrats quaffing free champagne and cocktails at events in Madrid, Vienna, Marseille, Lisbon, Sofia, Terrassa in Spain’s Catalonia and N’Djamena in Chad.
* The EU’s Luxembourg Office for Infrastructure and Logistics spent £26,938 on a team building trip to a German four-star hotel complete with “wellness centre” and top-class gym facilities.
* In 2008, Vienna-based contemporary dance troupe “danceWEB-Europe” was given a tidy £2,028,379 intended to benefit “emerging European choreographers and dancers with the aim of improving their production conditions and to foster culture diversity within Europe”.
* A year later the EU’s “External Relations” department gave £412 to the wine, spirits and beverage firms of Fiji for a booze up, cited as “expenditure of the delegations of the Commission of the European Communities”.
* Roberto Vincenzo Sindoni, the mayor of Capo d’Orlando in Sicily, was arrested in his role as legal representative of an agricultural firm given an EU farming subsidy of £845,201 to grow oranges on citrus orchards that never existed. No charges were ever brought.
* In 2010 the EU Council put out a tender for £33,803 for retailers to be gift providers including jewellery, boiled sweets, watches and ties.
* The “736 ideas 4 a Dream” children’s project – with a mission to create a postcard for each of the MEPs “to reflect on the current problems in Europe that generate social exclusion” -cost £148,262, or £201 per card.
* To address the “lack of co-operation in the field” of European hip-hop, the “European hip hop laboratory” in Lyon, France, was given £42,522 in EU funding to “improve the recognition and visibility of hip hop dance in Europe”.
* At a cost of £48,177, the EU’s Culture Programme financed the “European Joystick Orchestra” – a high tech orchestra that allows participants to make music through a computer joystick, apparently popular in France, Belgium and Italy.
* The Wind Art Festival of 2011-12 was handed £169,027 to make Europeans aware “of the diversity of their common European cultural heritage” by exposing them to “new applications of art disciplines with organs”.
* Belgian university Provincale Hogeschool, in Limburg, is receiving £426,736 over seven years to develop new video computer games, including one aimed at educating people on “the history of puppet theatre”.
There are two earlier reports on this blog a little further down. Please feel free to share these reports by clicking on the relevant buttons below.