Italian officials have been ordered to pay back almost $1 million to the European Union (E.U.) after using the money to fund a Elton John concert. Authorities used $983,000 from E.U. allowances to cover the singer's fee for his performance at the Piedigrotta festival in Naples in September 2009.
The European Commission has ruled the spending was inappropriate as the public funds are reserved for long-term cultural projects, such as art exhibits or restoring buildings. E.U. spokesman Ton van Lierop insists a "one-off rock concert" does not qualify, telling the Associated Press "We have asked Italy for our money back."
Festival organizers previously defended the move, insisting the gig promoted Naples and drew over 100,000 spectators to the city.