European Union

EU handing money to people left and right

An issue I’ve been taking interest in is how the EU spends its money. EU member countries are charged a considerable amount, so where does the money go?

I’ve been living in a small village in Northern Sweden for nearly two years (hard to believe I’ve survived this long). The village tends to be very quiet and does not offer many services, and the nearest large town with a population of 5,000 is a 45 minute drive.

Occasionally there will be advertisements in the local paper promoting events in the nearest large town for elderly, immigrants and business, and there will be an EU flag placed in the bottom corner along with other sponsors. The EU flag means the EU has contributed to funding the event. So that is one place EU money goes.

I recently attended a meeting held at the local community building in my village. The event was partly sponsored by the EU – I knew this because the EU symbol was placed on the meeting advertisement, but I would not have known at the meeting itself since the EU flag was not displayed anywhere. The purpose of the meeting was so discuss services that locals think the community needs, such as better transportation, community activities, etc. 15 locals were in attendance, mostly elderly.

At the beginning of the meeting a young man in casual business attire introduced himself to us and mentioned he is working with a firm that collects information and logistics from small communities to determine which services they needed. He had a polite voice and referenced to a Powerpoint display to help us follow along with the purpose of the meeting.

Eventually we broke into two groups to discuss what we thought the community needed. The young business man was the leader in my group who spoke in a calm voice and chatted with everyone in the group. It was a fairly lax conversation rather than a spearheaded conversation. Personally I was glad just talk to people – it’s lonely living in a small quiet village – but I did not view the meeting to be incredibly worthwhile since it was casual conversation and joking.

Eventually the meeting came to a close and a leader of the meeting handed cards to everyone. I opened my card and was surprised to see it was a coupon worth 100 Swedish kronor (approximately $12.50) that could go towards the local market. I thought that was a lot of money to receive just for attending a social gathering.

Someone said the money may be for travel expenses, which may be the case. I know when I was living in a rural area in the US traveling to local meetings was an issue for some people. But it seemed like the money was a general “thank you” rather than compensation for travel.

So there you have it. That is where some EU funding goes. The compensation can add up to quite a bit if they’re handing coupons out at every meeting they host.. I will have to attend EU meetings and see what status quo is.

Learn more about European Union’s spending agenda here.

Lauren Ell is an American blogger born and raised in Southern California and is currently based in Sweden. She discusses Epilepsy, Politics and Fun. Professionally Ell is an Online Marketing Consultant and Virtual Assistant. She is also founder and president of Republican Atheists. Connect with Lauren on Facebook and Twitter.