“I want my money back”. With this famous sentence, the then Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher began her fight for Britain’s EU contribution in 1979. Your country should not pay more money to the Union than flows from EU pots to Great Britain. Thatcher negotiated the ” British rebate” . However, the British did not really make their peace with the EU. In 2016 they voted for Brexit.
In Germany, the European idea was always more popular. There is consensus that Germany, as a country in the heart of Europe, benefits particularly from the EU both politically and economically. Nevertheless, the question arose again and again as to whether the price that Germany, as a net contributor, is paying is reasonable.
Until 2019, the EU published figures on the net positions of the member countries. Then she ended this practice – because she was tired of the constant debates about recipients and payers. But also because she considers this bill to be of little significance in an ever more closely interwoven Union. The former German EU budget commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU) even called them “nonsense”.
The German Economic Institute (IW) sees it differently. IW economists did the math, using the old method of the EU Commission. After all, it’s about tax money and, in the case of Germany, not about small amounts either. In 2021, Germany paid a total of 21.4 billion euros more to the European Union than EU funds flowed to Germany. Germany is by far the largest net contributor to the EU. The German contribution is almost twice as high as that of the second largest payer, France, with 10.9 billion euros.
The German net contribution increased very sharply by 5.9 billion euros from 2020 to 2021, writes the IW. The economists attribute this to Brexit, the exit of Great Britain from the EU. After that, financial flows had to be reorganized.
According to IW calculations, ten EU countries were net contributors and 17 member countries were net recipients in 2021. Germany and France are in the top five paying countries: the Netherlands (EUR 4.1 billion), Sweden (EUR 2.5 billion) and Denmark (EUR 1.5 billion).
According to the bill, the largest net recipient in the EU is Poland, which receives 12.9 billion euros more from the EU than it pays in. Greece follows at some distance with 4.7 billion euros, Hungary (4.3), Romania (4.2) and Spain (3.5).
Now Germany is also the largest economy in the EU with the most people. Poland is also one of the large EU countries. The IW therefore put the absolute contribution balances in relation to the economic power and population of the respective countries. The economists draw that for economic powerGross National Income (GNI)approach. In this view, the distances are smaller, and the order is also shifted somewhat. However, Germany remains the largest contributor with a contribution of 0.58 percent of GNI. This is followed by the Netherlands with 0.48 percent, Sweden (0.46 percent) and France and Denmark (0.43 percent each).
In terms of net recipients in relation to economic power, Poland is no longer among the largest recipients. Croatia is ahead here, benefiting from the EU in the amount of 3.08 percent of its GNI. It is followed by Lithuania with 3.05 percent and Hungary (2.89), Bulgaria and Latvia.
In the following table you will find the information for all 27 member countries both in absolute amounts and in relation to economic power and the number of inhabitants. You can use the search field to search for individual countries.
Debate about the sense and nonsense of the net figures
The IW combined its evaluation with an appeal to the EU Commission to publish the figures itself again. This requires transparency. “Publication of the net positions by the European Commission itself would give these figures an official seal and thus counteract any calculations and distorted or Eurosceptic representations. In addition, this would in no way imply that the benefits of the EU for the member states would be sufficiently recorded by solely considering the net positions Rather, this information is a necessary piece of the puzzle in order to do justice to the complete picture of the EU,” says the IW.
The EU, on the other hand, considers the net contributor view to be outdated. EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “This net payer and net recipient perspective does not do justice to the complexity of the EU budget and can therefore no longer be applied in this form”. Oettinger put it more drastically in 2018: “The net payer debate is becoming increasingly meaningless. (…) In the case of agricultural funds and cohesion, you can still see to a certain extent: what does a member state pay in, what does it get out of it. But when it comes to cross-border infrastructure, joint border protection, research and development aid, the net contributor consideration is simply nonsense”.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.