Athens told to return 350 mln euros’ farm aid

Grape farmers are seen protesting in this file photo, seeking financial support from the government. Greece was ordered yesterday to repay about 350 million euros in European Union farm subsidies after it failed to follow EU spending rules, the European Commission said. The Greek government failed to correctly apply the ‘land parcel identification system’ for calculating area-based subsidies to farmers in 2006, the Commission said, and its payment control systems were also found to be deficient. Yesterday’s decision brought the total amount of EU farm subsidies reclaimed from Greece since 1999 to 1.78 billion euros, the most for any EU member state. ‘We are working hard to achieve the best possible control of farm spending in order to verify that taxpayers’ money is not being misspent,’ EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said. In total, 19 European Union countries must repay about 580 million euros in misspent funds, the Commission added.