Italy must pay back EU-funded Elton John gig
Italy must reimburse 720,000 euros of EU cash used to fund an Elton John concert last year, the European Commission said Friday.
After looking into allegations of possible misuse of European Union cash, the commission this week sent a letter to the Italian government and the Campania regional authorities "asking them to reimburse 720,000 euros," spokesman Ton Van Lierop said.
The cash for the gig was part of a 2.25 million payout from the European Regional Development Fund to Italy's Campania region as part of a cultural project.
"This was a one-off concert," the spokesman said, whereas funding is only available for longer-term projects. He said the money would be paid back "by deducting from the next (EU) payments."
The remainder of the cash, used to fund a larger cultural festival, was not at stake, he added.
The pop star's September 2009 gig was scheduled as part of the Piedigrotta festival in Naples. The affair came to light recently after a European parliamentarian, Mario Borghezio, a member of Italy's populist Northern League, called it a "shameful" misuse of EU funds by local authorities.
Van Lierop said there were as many as two million projects funded over a seven-year period by the commission's cohesion funds for Europe's poorest regions.
© 2010 AFP