Sutton Coldfield minister under fire from local MEP over aid
Tuesday, May 1 2012
A Government Minister, who supports Turkey’s bid to join the EU, has come under fire from a fellow Sutton Coldfield politician who has called for urgent action to be taken following news that more than £500m of British taxpayers’ money is being spent by the EU on aid to relatively rich countries.
Local MEP Mike Nattrass has hit out at International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell for continuing to support Turkey’s accession to the EU.
The UKIP West Midlands MEP also challenged the Government to stand up to the European Union following the publication of a damning new report which revealed that more than half of EU development aid was going to “middle income” countries such as Serbia and Turkey.
According to a report by the Government’s International Development Committee, the UK spends around £1.23 billion each year on aid through the European Union.
In 2010, only 46 per cent of the UK’s contribution to EU aid went to low income countries. The International Development Committee has warned giving aid to “relatively rich” countries could “devalue the concept of aid”.
Commenting on the report, Mr Nattrass said: “Our Government should decide where we should send our aid. It is scandalous to think that a large proportion of our contribution is being spent by the EU on countries which are relatively rich.
“Aid should go where it is most needed, to the poorest people, but the EU’s own anti-fraud unit Olaf, found in 2010 that more than a billion euros of cohesion funding was misspent.
“Action is urgently needed. Why should British taxpayers’ money, thanks to the EU, go to so-called middle income countries such as Turkey?
“Britain has plunged into a double dip recession but Mr Mitchell supports Turkey’s ambitions to join the EU. He says supporting the Turkish accession to the EU is firmly in our national interest.
“Under EU laws of free movement people from Turkey would have the right to move to Britain which would put a strain on our already stretched National Health Service, our schools, our social services and on housing – how is that in our national interest?”