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EU members must pay back €263.5 mln of misspent farm aid

European Union regulators will claim back €263.5 million ($347.3 million) from member governments that misspent EU agriculture funds.

The EU grants farm aid to its 25 members, whose governments are responsible for distributing and checking payments, and reclaims money that hasn't been spent according to the rules. The bloc last collected misspent funds in April, when it ordered governments to return €128.2 million. „This is taxpayers' money, and we have to ensure effective controls on how it is used,” EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said in a statement in Brussels yesterday. Greece, the country receiving the largest bill, must pay back €163.7 million because it failed to set up a register of olive growers, meaning crop declarations couldn't be checked. The EU is under pressure at the World Trade Organization to reduce farm subsidies and make them less trade-distorting. (Bloomberg)