EU found to have been paying the wages of staff working in Gaza for six years who were not actually there
By Martin Banks, Brussels
10:52AM GMT 11 Dec 2013
A damning new report says the EU`s Palestinian aid programme [what aid does any sane person provide to terrorists?] has been paying thousands of civil servants in the Gaza Strip even though they have not worked for up to six years.
Since 2007, the EU has awarded around €2.9bn to projects in the Palestinian territories.
The main element of its Palestinian programme is called Pegase which offers direct support to the population by authorising funds for named individuals.
But a report by the European Court of Auditors says the bulk of Pegase directly subsidised the wage bill for 2,000 civil servants in education and health who were “on standby and ready to resume work”.
Brussels has not made clear before that they were still partly paid by the EU.
The Palestinian funding represents almost a fifth of support extended under the EU´s so-called “neighbourhood policy” – a decade-long effort to influence countries on its southern doorstep.
In the report to be published on Wednesday, the Court also questions whether “sufficient attention” was paid to the “fungibility” funding, which potentially freed the PA to pay staff who were ineligible for EU support, including the security forces.
The Palestinian aid programme, states the Court, lacked performance indicators, included no explicit reform requirements, and no systematic checks on whether eligible civil servants were actually working.
The report comes in the wake of a separate spending probe into €1bn of aid to Egypt which found little evidence the programme achieved its stated aims of promoting democracy and human rights.
The EU auditors say, “While Pegase is intended to support public services for the benefit of the Palestinian population, the payment of non-performing civil servants does not serve this objective.”
Their report recommends the European Commission “undertake a major review” of the system, stop funding unemployed civil servants in Gaza, introduce competitive tendering when appointing groups to monitor the payments and link the funds to progress in PA reforms.
Conservative MEP Marta Andreasen, said, “This news comes hot on the heels of another recent damning report from the auditors on aid to Egypt.
“It is now perfectly clear that EU aid is not being managed properly. Collosal sums of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on aid programmes that simply are not making a difference.
“Recipients such as the authorities in Gaza, who do not have any obligation to account for where the money is spent, are free to squander EU funds on unemployed politicians instead of helping the local population. I can also imagine that significant sums have been used to line pockets.”
German centre-right MEP Ingeborg Grässle, a member of the European Parliament’s budget control committee, said she found it “unbearable” that the EU paid staff “who in fact don’t even go to work, adding, “That was not what we agreed on and it leads to nothing.”
UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall said, “The EU is a byword for waste and fraud. Paying the wages of people who are not working in the Gaza strip is a slap in the face to the British taxpayers who are unknowingly, and unwillingly paying for this EU scam.
“And why is the EU forking out this money to this region under the guise of ‘Neighbourhood Policy’? The last time I looked at a map, the Palestinian territories do not border the EU. It is all highly indecent and ridiculous.”
The Commission defended the payments as a “political instrument” to keep alive the goal of a two-state solution.