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Rules on sponsorship of a country’s six-month presidency say they must not lead to conflicts of interest. Rebecca Harms, the co-president of the European Parliament’s Greens, questioned BMW and Audi’s deals with Denmark, Cyprus, Ireland, Lithuania and Greece, which have held the EU presidency for six months each since January 2012. ‘It’s always hard to prove a direct conflict of interest,’ she said, ‘but German car producers have good timing when it comes to donations and sponsorships.’
A spokesman for the European Council said no systematic records of sponsorships were kept but the practice of providing free cars to countries holding the presidency dates back several years.