The province of Limburg will reconsider the way of working – the ‘governance’ – at the office that distributes European Interreg subsidies in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. That writes acting commissioner of the king Johan Remkes on Tuesday to the Provincial Council.
Remkes responds to stories in NRC in which it was reported that the distribution of subsidies has accumulated years of backlog due to mismanagement and administrative chaos at the province of Limburg. Of the 96 million euros available for the 2014-2020 Interreg program period, only 39 million euros have been distributed.
The Fleming Mark Vos is responsible for the problems, besides being an official in the province of Limburg, he is also mayor of the Belgian city of Riemst and a leading Christian Democrat in Belgian Limburg.
Remkes sent the States a copy of a letter sent on Tuesday from the management of the provincial organization to the supervisory committee of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. The committee consists of representatives of the participating countries and regions in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
In the letter, the management writes that prior to the start of the new 2021-2027 programme, “a test” will be carried out “on the compatibility of a continuation of the appointment of Mr Vos as coordinator” (…) with his “other functions, including mayor of Riemst”.
Read the backstory here: Conflicts of interest and chaos in distribution of European subsidy money in Limburg
‘Bureaucracy already tackled’
In the letter, the management points out that the subsidy arrears can still be eliminated in the coming years and that the administrative chaos has already been addressed as a result of complaints.
From a pile of complaint letters of which NRC copies, it appears that communication between applicants and the subsidy office is difficult. Decisions are made and then reversed, and the accountability rules are adjusted halfway through projects.
According to the management, the assignment that Vos, as a provincial official, gave to a Belgian communication agency was also carried out ‘in accordance with the procedure’.
It concerns the communication agency that he also uses as mayor in Riemst and has been doing his personal election campaign for years.
In his role as an official of the province of Limburg, Vos nominated the office so that it could compete for the contract. Vos was one of the jury members who awarded the agency the contract during the tender.