BRUSSELS, Belgium (B)--The European Commission announced July 5 that it aims to recover 350.8 million euros ($333.9 million U.S.) of agricultural subsidies it believes France and other member states have misspent.

The EU said that it decided to reclaim the money, awarded under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), because countries had inadequate controls and failed to comply with EC rules on agricultural spending.

The Commission said that its clearance of accounts procedure will allow the EU to recover sums paid out without sufficient guarantees as to the "legitimacy of the payments made or the reliability of the control and the verification system in the Member States concerned."

The Commission added that since the beginning of 2000, 626.3 million euros ($596.2 million U.S.) have been claimed back from the member states and that another decision on fund recovery is scheduled before the end of the year.

The total of 350.8 million euros to be recovered relates to more than one fiscal year, the EU specified.

France will be asked to repay the most, a total 128.7 million euros ($122.5 million U.S.). This includes 60.7 million euros ($57.8 million U.S.) for failure to comply with administrative checks on arable crops, 31.9 million euros ($30.4 million U.S.) for unsatisfactory checks on suckler cows and 20.7 million euros ($19.7 million U.S.) that the EU said were wrongly paid for export refunds on beef.

Other countries include Greece, charged 88.3 million euros ($84 million U.S.) ; Denmark, 30.1 million ($28.6 million U.S.) and the U.K., 22.2 million ($21.1 million U.S.). Belgium and Austria will be charged respectively 0.8 million ($760,000 U.S.) and 1.6 million euros ($1.52 million U.S.).

Broken down by sector, the Commission said 174.4 million euros ($166 million U.S.) out of the total sum of 350.8 million euros is for arable crops, 55.6 million euros ($52.9 million U.S.) for livestock premium, 49.8 million euros ($47.4 million U.S.) for export refund and 17.9 million euros ($17.03 million U.S.) for other measures.

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