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Geert Wilders under fire over party's European subsidy claims

The Freedom Party is facing an investigation by the European Parliament after it emerged that its research into scrapping the euro was funded by Brussels.

Geert Wilders insists PVV members pay back the majority of their European salaries.The PVV hired London-based think tank Lombard Street Research earlier this year to analyse the likely consequences for the Netherlands of staying in the single currency or restoring the guilder.

Party leader Geert Wilders relied heavily on the outcome of the study in his manifesto for the Dutch election campaign, which he said should be a “referendum” on EU membership.

The PVV’s European group received €13,000 subsidy to fund the research, despite Wilders’s anti-EU stance and his insistence that his party does not receive “a single cent” in public funding.

Brussels wants to investigate whether the application broke the rules which forbid parties spending European money on domestic political projects.

Questions have also been raised about the validity of the application, which was supposed to cover 11 days of research.

An investigation by the TV investigative programme KRO Reporter found that the only work that appeared to have been carried out was the translation of the 24-page summary of Lombard Street’s report.

The same investigation found that former PVV Euro MP Daniel van der Stoep claimed €24,000 in expenses for alcohol rehabilitation treatment after crashing his car while over the drink-drive limit.

The 31-year-old spent seven weeks in therapy and later resigned from the party and the European Parliament over the incident.

He claimed the cost of his treatment back from the European Parliament’s insurance scheme, though there is no suggestion that he was not entitled to the money.

Party leader Geert Wilders told NOS that the responsibility for following EU rules lay with the Euro-MPs themselves.

He said: “It’s their responsibility in the first instance, but our Euro MPs give back most of the high remuneration that they receive because collectively they earn far too much.”

It also emerged that PVV senator Gabrielle Popken is in dispute with a Polish contractor over the renovation of her apartment in The Hague.

Popken hired a team of seven Poles to redecorate the apartment for three months, at a total cost of €80,000. The company claims she still owes than €12,000.

The use of Polish workers has raised eyebrows because of Wilders’s infamous “shop-a-migrant” website, which called on Dutch citizens to report Poles and eastern Europeans who had “stolen” their jobs.