New analysis by the TaxPayers' Alliance of official European Development Fund records has exposed the wasteful projects funded by the European Commission, costing British taxpayers millions of pounds a year.
Among the funding commitments uncovered by the TaxPayers' Alliance are:
- €245,837 (£173,364) on the Nafasi Arts Space in Dar Es Salaam, which among other initiatives ran a course called "Chap Chap Plastic" inviting local people to join artists and learn "how to make art from plastic bags"
- €215,972 (£152,293) on Fit for Life, a programme which includes weekly trapeze, acrobatics, and juggling lessons in Tanzania
- €184,975 (£130,435) to support the "media and communications" work of the EU in Jamaica
- €180,000 (£126,933) for a "Study on Pacific Coconut Development"
- €176,276 (£134,312) to boost wildlife tourism in Swaziland in 2012
- €114,288 (£80,597) to facilitate a conference of Culture Ministers from a variety of African countries to discuss economic growth and the African cultural economy - in Brussels
- €107,341 (£75,698) for officials to attend a renewable energy conference in Aruba
- €500,000 (£352,589) towards the Culture Fund Zimbabwe Trust, which funds artists in the country, and whose Chief Executive describes Robert Mugabe as a "hero" and defends him from corruption allegations
- €26,900 (£18,969) on a study into "the youth perceptions, attitudes and views towards EU development policy", which revealed young people like "playing and watching sports", "dating" and "listening to music"
- €25,000 (£17,629) on the Zimbabwe Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Europe's premier art festival
- Separate grants of €198,464, €86,860 and €45,873 (total: £233,537) in 2011 to "confidential" projects in Belgium. No further information is available.
Commenting on the research, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"This is a perfect storm of government waste and European inefficiency. Too many of the projects funded through the EDF neither deliver value for money for taxpayers nor deliver sustainable development in the places that need it most. Enough is enough.
"The UK Government must reconsider its support of this programme, as clearly too much money is simply being wasted. Even more worrying is the lack of transparency. It is totally unacceptable for the Commission to simply write off spending as "confidential," making it almost impossible to monitor whether British taxpayers' money is being spent properly."