The Italian Mafia has made €3bn over the past ten years by siphoning off EU funds intended for farmers within Sicily’s largest national park, according to a former director of the park, who survived a Mafia assassination attempt in 2016.
In his new book, Giuseppe Antoci claims that Cosa Nostra clans use threats to deter farmers within the 210,000-acre Nebrodi National Park from bidding for land leases, then secure the leases at low rates through front companies to gain access to millions in EU subsidies. Anti-Mafia prosecutors say that, across Italy, the clans have expanded beyond their traditional activities of extortion, drug dealing and prostitution, and moved into the farming and food sectors. They put the value of the “agro-Mafia business” – which affects the entire food chain, from producers to restaurants – at more €22bn last year. (The Week Feb 13 2019)
So the Cosa Nostra bullies farmers and get their hands on land and EU subsidies. If you are a European this is your money that is being swindled from the EU. On this issue I sympathise with the EU critics (who are not only British). The EU seems incompetent to deal with fraud, which has been going on for decades ( centuries?). The problem is that the EU citizens are not being swindled only by the mafia. We can guess at the extent of fraud, but know few details. However, the mafia has always been with us and will continue thus. The answer is not to scrap the EU, but to beef up law enforcement.