The tiny island archipelago, located some 2,000 kilometers northeast of Brisbane, Australia, was the home to an EU mission of seven lucky diplomats, who also had the bonus of being some 15,700 kilometers distant from HQ in Brussels.
A decision to maintain an EU diplomatic presence on the island was a strange and certainly costly decision. Only four nations, France, Australia, China and New Zealand have permanent embassy’s on the island, while from 2008 to 2013, the EU spent €23.2 million ($26.4 million) to help boost economic growth and to create jobs. From 2014 to 2020, a further €31 million ($35.3 million) has been earmarked for Vanuatu, according to the EU External Action website.
The permanent diplomatic mission was finally shut down after 29 years at the end of 2013. However, it managed to spend $184,000 on teaching the locals how to play cricket… This was presided over by the charge d’affaires Robert de Raeve, a Belgian national, who after benefits were thrown in, took home a salary of around $200,000, while paying a paltry 15 percent tax.
Spain’s desalination conundrum
A desalination plant built in one of the driest areas of Europe would seem like a good idea. However, changes in the economic climate together with political mismanagement have made Europe’s largest desalination facility, built in Spain, one of the continent’s biggest white elephants.
The project started in 2007, with the aim of being completed in 2009. Six years on, the plant has finally been finished. It is just lacking power, and perhaps more crucially customers to make the expensive facility viable.
The project has already lost €55 million ($62.6 million) worth of EU funding because it wasn’t completed on time. This sum was to be provided by Europe as a subsidy to help fund the cost of the €300-million ($341-million) facility. It won’t receive this money until the plant is operational.
Tunnel vision: Does Lyon need underground link to Turin?
It has been hailed as the final link in connecting Barcelona and Bucharest – a rail network spanning the continent. However, the Turin to Lyon tunnel is proving to be a headache for the EU, which has pumped billions into the project.
Work began on the 57-kilometer tunnel in 2013, designed to link Lyon and Turin. The EU has agreed to provide around €3.4 billion ($3.87 billion) of the €8.5 billion ($9.6 billion) needed for construction costs. The overall cost for the project has risen to €26 billion ($29.6 billion), the Euractiv website reports.
However, the project has proved unpopular with locals and environmentalists and Green MEP’s have managed to get the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, to investigate the spiraling costs of the tunnel, with the French and Italian governments providing the rest. They see the project as a complete waste of taxpayer money.
and on and on and on….. Spending other peoples money really is a nice job, especially if you get paid royally for doing it.