Far-right group should repay 427,000 euros to EU parliament: budget report


Brussels (AFP)

A group of far-right parties, dominated by France's National Front, should pay back hundreds of thousands of euros in expense payments by the European Parliament, according to a document seen by AFP Monday.

The Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENL) group of European deputies also includes the Italian anti-immigrant League party, led by Matteo Salvini who hopes to head the next Italian government following Sunday's general election there.

According to a written opinion by the EU parliament's budget control committee, seen by AFP, the ENL group has, since 2016, insufficiently justified 38,889 euros ($47,950) of expenses and violated the rules of tender on another 388,278 euros.

The expenses in question include meals of more than 400 euros per person and a hundred Christmas presents of more than 100 euros each.

The budget watchdog also suggests that the far-right grouping in the EU parliament hand back money used to buy some 230 bottles of champagne.

FN deputy secretary general Nicolas Bay told AFP that it was all a "question of interpretation of the rules", adding that there was "no wish to break the rules".

The ENL has "conformed with the tightest interpretation" of the parliamentary rules since 2017, he added.

The parliamentary document remains, at this stage, merely advisory and could be amended up until March 12 when it will be submitted to the European parliament office, which includes the parliament's chief Antonio Tajani.

A decision will be made thereafter as to whether to bill the far-right group for payments deemed to be unjustified.

Last June the leader of France's National Front, Marine Le Pen was charged back home over claims her party illegally claimed millions of euros from the European Parliament to pay for France-based staff.

She has denied any wrongdoing.