Counting other states’ money: some interesting statistics on EU budget

dr. Agne Limante 

Post-Graduate Diploma candidate in EU Law, King’s College London; PhD in EU law, Vilnius University


Recently THE GUARDIAN has released an interesting article titled: EU budget: what does the European Union spend and where does the money come from?, accompanied by a curiosity raising table showing the biggest contributors and receivers of EU budget money (See table here: EU27_Money).

Exceeding €122bn, an annual budget of EU is bigger than that of many countries, including its Member States. True, it amounts to around 1/10th of Germany’s budget, 1/9th of annual budget of France and almost 1/7th of that of the UK. On the other hand, its new Member State Romania, for example, lives on almost 4.5 times lower budget.

According to the data, most of the EU’s money comes from contributions of Member States – which amounted to €108.5bn in 2010. Also, considering the amount paid out of the EU budget to its Member States, it’s mainly the bigger and older EU Member States who bear all the costs. No surprise then that Germany is the leading contributor with an annual loss of €8,9bn, second comes the UK loosing €5.4 billion. Negative result is also achieved by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Finland.

The best in EU business is Poland gaining €8.5bn a year mostly for agriculture and cohesion (almost all the annual loss of UK). From the new Member States, the nearest competitors are Hungary (€2,8bn) and Czech Republic (€2,1bn), while others, despite the importance of EU funding to their budgets, do not pass the €1bn limit.

Of the old Member States, it is Spain (€4,3bn), Greece (€3,6bn), Belgium (€2,8bn), Portugal (€2,7bn), Luxemburg (€1,3bn) and Ireland (€0,9bn) who have positive results. Spain and Greece are generally making money from agriculture funding while Belgium and Luxemburg hosts many EU institutions receiving administration funds.

For euroskeptics, this graph is a good beginning for criticism. For pro-Europeans, it is a nice example of co-existence, working together and the basis for development of each state. But the numbers here do not show everything. What we do not see is how much each state gains from access to European markets and contracts, as well as economic chances followed by EU existence and its membership. Moreover, the data gives no proper information on how states economy is affected by incoming or outgoing labor force, and, even more importantly, we can evaluate neither the price of peace in Europe, nor the rights and freedoms enjoyed by its citizens.