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MEP hits out at EU aid to Argentina

A multimillion-pound EU aid programme to help Argentina should be halted until the country stops "threatening" Britain over the Falklands, an MEP has said.

Conservative Nerj Deva confronted EU foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton over what he called a "potty" scheme which is partly paid for by Britain itself.

Through its EU budget contributions, the UK is funding nearly seven million pounds of the £64 million EU development funding arrangement launched in 2007 and due to run until 2013, said the South East region MEP, who is vice-chairman of the European Parliament's Development Committee.

And during questions to Baroness Ashton at a Committee meeting in Brussels he asked: "Why is EU aid being sent at the same time Argentina is sabre-rattling and threatening the UK over the Falklands? Can you please have a look at this?

"Why are we giving money to the Argentines that they may use to attack the Falkland Islands? It is potty, dotty and mad."

Baroness Ashton said EU aid schemes for Argentina were part of financial programmes supporting education and "people at the poorest end of the spectrum", insisting: "That is always something we have to keep in mind, whatever else is going on."

Mr Deva said: "Argentina is hardly a poor country, in fact it is a member of the G20 (club of major global economies)."

He pointed out that UK also contributed via the International Monetary Fund to loan schemes for Argentina worth £450 billion in the last 12 years.

A spokesman for the Department for International Development said: "DfID does not give aid to Argentina. The EU agreed to give this aid during the last Labour government in 2007.

"No UK taxpayers' money is spent on providing finance to Argentina through the World Bank, which provides loans on commercial terms. Like Britain's own aid budget, we urge our partners to focus their aid on to the poorest countries who need it most."

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