France’s National Front and other far-right parties in Europe should pay back hundreds of thousands of euros in expenses covered by the European Parliament, according to a written opinion by the parliament’s budget control committee.
The committee found that the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENL) group of European deputies, which includes National Front and Italy’s League party, has (since 2016) insufficiently justified €38,889 of expenses and violated the rules of tender on another €388,278 euros.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, the expenses in question include meals of more than €400 per person and a hundred Christmas presents of more than €100 each.
The budget watchdog also suggests the far-right grouping hand back money used to buy some 230 bottles of champagne.
In an interview with the Agence France-Presse (AFP), National Front deputy secretary general Nicolas Bay said it was all a “question of interpretation of the rules”, adding that there was “no wish to break the rules”.
The ENL has “conformed with the tightest interpretation” of the parliamentary rules since 2017, he added.
In a separate report, the Associated Press (AP) noted that the EU’s top court has ordered Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s National Front, and ranking party member Bruno Gollnisch to repay nearly €600,000 to the European Parliament for wages wrongly paid to alleged parliamentary assistants.
Le Pen must return more than €320,000 spent by the parliament between 2009 and 2014 on a member of his staff hired as a local assistant. Gollnisch must pay back more than €275,985.