Kosovo and the EU's missing millions

Published on May 6, 2009, Telegraph.co.uk

Category: Organized Crime in Kosovo

Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

There's a breaking story just about to go online about the alleged serious fraud and corruption swirling around the millions the European Union pumped into Kosovo just after the war ten years ago.

Internal documents - click here for a blog world exclusive - show that at least GBP62.3 million was pretty severely compromised in two key economic projects, funded by the EU and supervised by the United Nations.

The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) ran the protectorate from 1999 to 2008 following the controversial Nato intervention there.

The EU has not covered itself with glory: Kosovo has "supervised independence" (a nasty colonial oxymoron) and divided European countries have fudged its future.

As can be seen by the documents, cash and projects that should have helped the people lined the pockets of crooks, cronies and dodgy officials.

Under Kosovo's "supervised independence" it now appears that this money has disappeared raising all kinds of questions about the growing trend of having unaccountable organisations running countries.

The European Commission has been left on the sidelines.

"The Commission continues to raise these concerns with the Kosovo authorities and demand that they clarify the steps they have taken," a spokesman told me rather plaintively.

For once, the European Parliament is doing the right thing with a threat to block EU cash for the UN unless there is proper oversight and accounting for the money is spent.

"Parliament must have assurance evidence in order to be able to accept channelling about a thousand million euros on a yearly basis to international organisations," says the confidential letter to the European Commission.

The parliament's budgetary control committee is demanding that the commission halts funding to UN projects which do not hand over accounts to European auditors.

"We urge the commission in future not to finance where there is doubt regarding the existence of such structures and procedures," says the letter.

As the European Parliament notes, UN mismanagement is case of bad politics and murky accountability.

Should we be putting the destinies of regions and people in the hands of people who can not even be trusted with the simple financial administration of public money?

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