ELEVEN EU member countries will have to pay back a total equivalent to £240m to the European Commission which says the money has been "misspent" in the agricultural sector.

Almost £200m is being claimed back from Spain alone, though significant irregularities have also been found in Germany, France and Italy. Britain's bill is the equivalent of £300,000 for "non-compliance with payment deadlines."

Commission officials said the irregularities were generally due to negligence in management and did not imply fraud. Further decisions to recover funds are expected before the end of the year.

By Alan Osborn, just-food.com correspondent