Eurosceptics branded the vast spending “wasteful” and said British taxpayers should be “livid” at how their money is being spent.
Today the EU parliament formally adopted the spending plan for next year, which represents a £2.6 billion hike from 2017.
This budget is the last one that Britain will contribute to as a full member of the club, with the UK set to leave the EU in March 2019.
Brussels has been repeatedly criticised for spending cash on bizarre and unnecessary projects, often with little accountability.
However, EU officials have moved to clean up its spending act in recent years to combat the growth in popularity of eurosceptic parties.
Eurocrats point out that spending at European level is only a fraction of that carried out nationally and say they need more cash to combat shared challenges like migration and climate change.
But critics say much taxpayers’ money pumped into the EU is wasted on administration costs and pointless projects.
Previous examples of such waste have included a ‘Donkeypedia’ blog, Dennis the Menace style euro cartoons teaching children about the Common Agricultural Policy and loans to a non-existent youth club in Azerbaijan.
Ukip MEP Jonathan Arnott fumed: “Days after its been revealed UK Government is handing over huge divorce payment, the EU has agreed to splurge 160 billion euro of taxpayers money on more wasteful projects.
“This 160 billion euro will be used to subsidise, among other things, new roads in Bratislava, peasant farmers in Romania, and bottles of champagne for eurocrats in Brussels.
“The British taxpayer should be livid that their money is going on these vanity projects, especially as EU membership holds us back from striking free trade agreements around the globe.
“We want out of this racket as soon as possible, but not by giving them a massive cheque as we leave. The Tory government has capitulated with barely whimper. They are a disgrace.”
The budget includes controversial spending pledges including £10.7 million allocated to buy 20,000 free Interrail tickets for 18-year-olds in the hope of fostering a ‘European identity’.
Tory MEPs also voted against the plan, saying “the EU shouldn’t waste money on projects such as free Interrail passes for 18-year-olds but focus on getting taxpayers value for money”.
The bumper budget comes at a time when the EU is facing a cash crisis as a result of Brexit, with Britain’s departure set to blow a £9 billion hole in its finances.
Member states are currently at loggerheads over how to cope with the shortfall, with wealthier countries advocating a cut in overall spending but poorer ones urging them to put more money into the pot.