EU Auditors: Billions wasted on Russia aid

April 22, 2006 at 5:00 AM

MOSCOW, April 21 (UPI) -- The European Union wasted billions of euros as part of its assistance to Russia and other former Soviet republics, the European Court of Auditors said.

The auditors issued a disappointing report on how 7 billion euros ($8.6 billion) of EU assistance -- about 40 percent of which was allocated to Russia -- had been spent since 1991, Moscow News reported.

Unrealistic and vague objectives, poor implementation and lack of communication between Brussels and Russian officials were seen as the reasons for much the failure.

The auditors concluded that only five EU projects out of a sample of 29 completed by the end of 2003 could be considered "sustainable."

Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian member of the European parliament and a long-standing crusader against the waste of EU funds, said a European Commission should suspend its assistance program until it carries out an investigation.

Brussels insists it has recently overhauled the assistance program, known as TACIS, and is now more efficient.

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