In the East, corruption scandals linked to European funds are multiplying

Several eurosceptic leaders are accused of enriching themselves or enriching their loved ones by diverting money from Brussels.

By Jean-Baptiste Chastand and Blaise Gauquelin Posted today at 02:38

Time to Play 6 min.

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A Czech Prime Minister who faces between five and ten years in prison. A leader of the ruling party in Romania targeted by a prosecution investigation for embezzlement. The son-in-law of Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused of enriching himself on European structural funds thanks to his family ties in Hungary … In recent years, the corruption scandals related to these envelopes are multiplying in several Eastern countries having joined the Union. European Union (EU) from 2004.

All political parties are affected with almost every time, the same sulfurous ingredients: people in power, or their relatives, would benefit from EU cohesion funds, while attacking more and more harshly the European institutions in their speeches …

The stakes are high for the 26 May poll: the next MEPs will have to negotiate the future regional funds envelope for the period 2021-2027. While 351 billion euros have been forecast for 2014-2020, the departure of the United Kingdom should mechanically reduce the amounts allocated.

Not to mention that several western capitals now want to make the payments of these sums to the respect of the rule of law, even to the reception of the asylum seekers. In this context, even if European money has massively served the people and infrastructure of the median Europe, the proliferation of scandals threatens to discredit one of the policies yet at the heart of the European construction.

Read also Poland: France suggests conditioning access to European funds to respect for the rule of law

Part of the European money is hoarded

For three weeks they have been, for thousands to march every Monday in the Czech Republic to protest against the new Minister of Justice, appointed on April 30 after the surprise resignation of his predecessor. The latter left his post just days after the local police recommended the indictment of Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Second fortune of the country, the latter is suspected of having artificially sausage, in 2007-2008, a hotel project of its conglomerate, Agrofert, for the sole purpose of receiving a European aid of 2 million euros, in the form funds for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In Romania, Liviu Dragnea, the president of the Social Democratic Party, has been indicted since the end of 2017 for embezzling 21 million euros of European funds, on the sidelines of road renovation projects. Under his control, Bucharest multiplies the contested reforms to weaken anti-corruption justice … Faced with criticism from Brussels, the leader of the Romanian left does not hesitate to multiply the sovereignist speech.

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