At the Expense of Europe. European funds are defrauded in a thousand and one different ways: how they work, what they cost, and who’s fighting frauds

Foto A spese dell’Europa. Le mille e una frode sui fondi comunitari: a quanto ammontano, come funzionano, chi le combatte

Between 2014 and 2020, the European Union is setting aside more than 77 billion euros for Italy in structural and investment funds: 46.5 bn in cohesion policies, and 31 bn for the common agricultural policy. This major driver of growth is in jeopardy of being weakened by a large number of swindles, misappropriation, fraud and other offences committed by scoundrels, swindlers and organized crime.

According to the Financial Police, which between 2014 and 2016 carried out close to 13 thousand checks, in 6 out of 10 cases funding was fraudulently requested or obtained. The percentage rises even higher for the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): 64%. Irregularities peak in Southern Italy, where 85% of EU structural funding and direct spending fraud occurs. Central Italy is responsible for the lion's share of offences involving agriculture and fishing: almost half of all cases.

How can fraud against the EU be contained? Where does oversight come from? Who claws back unduly-received money? And what tricks are most commonly used to get rich at Europe's expense? Here is an analysis of the Italian system.

  • Tables and figures


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