The European Elections: Eurofact

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THE European Union loses about pounds 275m a year to fraud. In 1993 this represented a 50 per cent increase on 1992. A black spot is the EU system of farm subsidies and price guarantees, where it is easy for farmers to cheat on quotas or claim money for planting non-existent crops.

French and Italian criminals bought refined sugar in Rotterdam, saying it was for export to Croatia, to get round the levy charged for placing excess sugar on the over-supplied EU market. The cargo was diverted to Italy via Belgium, Luxembourg and France and probably used for sweetening wine. Sophisticated and hard-to-detect scams have increased, but the Commission has cracked down, introducing computerised traces, remote sensors and aerial photography.