Contributors and recipients

(Photo: EU Commission)

Contributors and recipients

Member states pay contributions to the EU budget. Some  member states, like Germany, pay more than they receive and are net contributors. Others, such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland, pay less than they receive and are net recipients.

It is difficult to calculate the total net position of the different countries. When an agricultural product is sold on the EU market for a higher price than average, there may be a benefit for the exporting  member state. But this will not be registered in the budget. When an agricultural product is sold outside the EU, there is an export restitution to be seen in the budget.

For example, if customs duties are paid when goods are imported into Rotterdam for use in Poland, official EU figures will show the Netherlands as a contributor even if the customs duty is paid by the Poles, and vice-versa. The benefit for Germany of having free trade for industrial products and services is not seen in the budget at all, nor are the net gainers and losers from, for example, the Common Fisheries Policy.

There is now a special rebate for net contributors like Germany, UK, Netherlands, Austria and Sweden, paid partly by much poorer countries. It is difficult to work out the overall balance of payments effect of EU membership on individual EU countries, setting out their total financial gains against their total financial  losses.

The movement of funds between national Exchequers and the EU gives only one element of  the overall financial transactions between countries.  

This is because EU directives and regulations can have different economic effects on different countries.For example rules laying down a maximum working week have different effects on countries where particular groups of workers have traditionallyworked long hours compared with countries where the working week has traditionally been shorter.The economic cost of obeying EU law can then differ a lot between them.


Activities of the European Union: Budget