Defunct Eurosceptic party linked to Ukip asked to repay €1.1m

Alliance for Direct Democracy must repay entire 2016 grant after investigation into misspending of EU funds

A defunct European political grouping that was dominated by Ukip has been asked to repay €1.1m (£977,000) to the European parliament following an investigation into misspending of EU funds.

The Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe was a Eurosceptic pan-European political party, until it was closed down after a 2016 auditors’ inquiry found misspending of EU funds, including on Nigel Farage’s bid to become an MP in the 2015 UK general election.

On Tuesday it emerged that the defunct party is facing an even higher bill, after European parliament authorities asked the ADDE to repay its entire 2016 grant. A meeting of senior MEPs concluded that the ADDE owed the parliament €1.1m in funds “unduly paid” in 2016, because it had never supplied documents to prove that the grant had been spent in line with EU rules.

“Despite the reminders, ADDE never provided the final statement of eligible expenditure actually incurred to the auditor,” concluded an internal report.

Refusing to sign off the ADDE accounts, the auditors found that €299,270 had been spent in breach of EU rules, while the rest was unclear. The ADDE could also not be described as “a going concern” because it had gone into liquidation, auditors said.

In 2016 the ADDE was asked to repay tens of thousands when it was found to have spent EU funds on the 2015 British general election campaign, breaking rules that bar spending on domestic politics. A sister organisation, the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe, was asked to repay €35,000 and later lost an appeal to have EU funds reinstated.

ADDE was found to have spent EU funds on Nigel Farage’s bid to become an MP in the 2015 UK general election
ADDE was found to have spent EU funds on Nigel Farage’s bid to become an MP in the 2015 UK general election. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The EU began funding pan-European political parties and foundations ahead of the 2014 European elections in an effort to stir political debate beyond national borders. The rules were tightened up after it emerged that Eurosceptic parties had been using the money for national campaigns. More than 40% of ADDE members were Ukip MEPs, and no other party had more than a handful of members.

The former party is separate from Ukip’s group in the European parliament, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, but the two organisations shared many members, including EFDD’s leader, Nigel Farage.

Farage, who is being docked half his MEP salary over a separate dispute, told the Guardian he “wouldn’t know” anything about ADDE finances, noting that he had never been a director. He accused the parliament of singling out Eurosceptic parties: “Ever since Brexit, the whole thing has been vindictive in the most extraordinary way.”

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Jennifer Rankin in Strasbourg

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