Italy mismanaged the €493.7m allocated by European reconstruction funds following the 2009 earthquake in Aquila that left more 300 victims in its wake, announces Italian daily La Repubblica, which cites a report presented on November 4 by MEP Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE-NGL), a member of the Budgetary Control Commission.

The report takes note of allegations levelled by the anti-Mafia organisation, Libera and establishes that "part of the funds were paid to companies with direct or indirect links to organised crime." It also says that costs were systematically inflated, despite the use of equipment and techniques that do not comply with EU standards. Furthermore, Søndergaard is asking that Italy be forced to return funds already spent – about €350m – because the housing built in Aquila will be rented in violation a regulation which stipulates that projects realised with EU funds must not generate profits.

The EU Commission also comes under scrutiny in the report, for not being sufficiently vigilant as to how EU taxpayers' money is used. Instead, the Commission is accused of "covering-up" the abuse by the Italian government, then led by Silvio Berlusconi. The Commission has denied the report's conclusions, calling them "confused" and expressed concern at its potential "media repercussions".