Bridge to nowhere: Black Book details shocking waste of taxpayers’ money

Germany wasted €120 million (£102 million) by paying incentives to buy electric cars to people who had already bought them, according to the country’s equivalent of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The example is just one of 100 detailed in the Black Book, an annual report issued by the German Taxpayers’ Association that catalogues federal, state and municipal projects, assessing expense, profligacy and poor planning, from Angela Merkel’s cabinet to local councils.

The 2021 report describes how 46,000 drivers were paid €6,000 (£5,130) subsidies each to buy new e-cars they had already bought – because the incentive was introduced after they ordered the cars but before delivery.

Other examples include €1.2 million (£1 million) on a motorway app that has only 14,000 users and €1.5 million (£1.3 million) on a road bridge over a railway line that is only used for a few days a year.

An overpass in North Rhine-Westphalia, built between 1976 and 1977, was supposed to be part of Autobahn 56, but the federal government cancelled the new road. The overpass is still there and every year it is checked for roadworthiness.

The chancellor’s office in Berlin is larger than the White House or 10 Downing Street, but Germany is set to double its size with a second building at a cost of €485 million (£415 million).

The chancellor's office in Berlin

Credit: INA FASSBENDER
/AFP

That doesn’t include an additional €39 million (£33 million) for a tunnel to connect the two buildings, which are on opposite sides of the river Spree.

Spending on a project to upgrade government IT systems has spiralled out of control and it is now forecast to cost a staggering €3.4 billion (£2.9 billion) — and not be completed until 2032.

At the other end of the scale the report details how a local council spent €182,000 (£166,000) on a windowless building to house public toilets that measured just 207 square feet.

It tells how the regional government of Schleswig-Holstein spent €1.5 million (£1.3 million) of taxpayers’ money to upgrade Lübeck football stadium after the local club was promoted to the third division.

The upgrades, which include a heated pitch, were to meet third division requirements — but by the time they were finished Lübeck had been relegated back to the fourth division

"Politicians have spent billions of euros of taxpayers’ money on pointless projects. We are exposing the scandals because a citizens should know what is happening," the Taxpayers’ Association said.

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