Ask any person across Europe their top priority right now and they’ll likely say “it’s the economy, stupid.” Soaring unemployment, failing banks and massive government deficits continue to dominate the news headlines in several EU countries as ordinary people worry about their jobs and futures. As people tighten their pocketbooks, it is increasingly obvious that international institutions aren’t doing the same. This week, the EU’s Court of Auditors refused to once again sign off the EU’s budget – for the 15th straight year. For 15 years, the EU’s own auditors have not been able to give the EU budget a clean bill of health.

British think-tank Open Europe has just released a report, “50 examples of EU waste” listing EU projects which defy common sense, and in most cases, even belief. For example, as part of its 2008 €7 million ‘Year of Intercultural Dialogue’ initiative, the EU commissioned a project named “Donkeypedia”, where a Dutch donkey named Asino blogged his way across the Netherlands, talking to school children about the concept of European identity. Also in 2008, nearly €200,000 was spent creating a network of EU puppet experts in the Baltics. Let’s hope Asino doesn’t apply for more tax-payer’s cash for a rendez-vous with the Estonian puppets.

Open Europe’s report reveals the systematic and pointless nature of EU spending in several areas. EU ‘Structural Funds’ now join the Common Agricultural Policy on a growing list of immoral and unjustifiable budget lines administered by the EU. €45 billion a year of Structural Funds are allocated by Brussels to ‘share the wealth’ among EU member states. In reality, rich countries get almost as much of these funds as poorer ones and wasteful or corrupt spending has become notorious.

There is a much simpler way to do things. If the UK wants Lithuania to receive more foreign assistance, why doesn’t the government just send the money to Vilnius directly? Cutting a check to Brussels which is then mismanaged, misallocated and spent on projects outside of Britain’s control makes no sense. As part of David Cameron’s six point plan to preserve British sovereignty and repatriate key powers from Brussels, he must withdraw Britain’s contribution from wasteful budget lines such as Structural Funding where Britain could better manage its own money.