The UK Financial Contribution to the EU

There’s so much misunderstanding and distortion flying around about the United Kingdom’s contribution to the European Budget and what it might be spent on if we left the EU that I just thought I would post this for information. It shows official figures from HMRC for 2014. Similar pie charts are available for other years, but often they include the EU contribution under “other” which is why I’ve chosen this particular one. Also, I’m very lazy and it came up first on Google…

fat cut

Although it’s a lot of money in cash terms, it’s very small compared to current expenditure on, e.g. Health, Education and Welfare and even compared to the interest payments on our national debt. Saving this contribution would not make sufficient financial resources  available to make a significant difference to these other big ticket  items. Note also that if the UK loses its current credit rating, the expense of servicing our debt will increase by an amount that could easily on its own wipe out the saving on our EU subscription.

And of course what we get for that relatively small contribution is access to beneficial trade agreements, inward investment from EU companies and other sources, and access to the science programmes. You may disagree, of course, but I think it’s money very well spent.



22 Responses to “The UK Financial Contribution to the EU”

  1. So, the debate around the UK’s contribution to the EU budget might well be an example of Parkinson’s law of triviality. As a wise old colleague of mine used to say, “it doesn’t show up in the roundings.”

    But it’s not about economics, is it. The issue really bothering those who want out is sovereignty.

    • telescoper Says:

      So people say. I wish I could understand what that means, though. Sovereignty is such a nebulous concept in a world that’s so interconnected and interdependent. It seems to me that in the EU we do have sovereignty over the things that really matter.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        It’s plain enough what it means. You can vote the people who make our laws in Westminster out. Not so, the EU.

      • telescoper Says:

        You can vote in the elections to the European Parliament. And the Council of Ministers consists of representatives of the elected governments of member countries.

        It is true that members of the Commission are not directly elected, but they are appointed by Parliament. In any case they only draft legislation when invited to by the elected bodies. Any such laws that have been drafted are then scrutinised, modified or rejected by Parliament. And none can be enacted in any country without approval. It seems to me a very democratic process, with numerous checks and balances on power.

        Contrast our own unelected House of Lords….

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The people of Britain can vote out the government of Britain. They cannot vote out the government of Europe, yet that government makes a significant number of our laws.

      • telescoper Says:

        We can’t vote out the House of Lords…

      • telescoper Says:

        Do you feel the same way about Scotland? They have pooled sovereignty in the United Kingdom. They voted to remain. Do you think they should have voted for independence?

      • telescoper Says:

        The Commission is “commissioned” to draft laws. It doesn’t just make make them up on a whim.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I’m not interested in lessons in democracy from the Continent!

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      History. Which embeds a tradition.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      The UK has a long and deep and unbroken tradition of democracy. Traditions are things that are embedded in a people and cannot be changed so easily. Continental countries have no such tradition. I am glad that they are democratic but the depth of embedding in the people is what matters – and what you are discounting. I am not talking about inherited guilt; my words neither said that nor implied it.

    • The UK has has universal suffrage since 1928 when the remaining property qualifications for women were removed by the Equal Franchise Act. Countries which had universal suffrage before this include Finland (1906), Denmark (1915), The Netherlands (1919) and Norway (1913). The UK has had universal male suffrage since 1918, this was introduced in France in 1792. The UK only abolished plural voting in 1948. Please do not try to claim that the UK has a tradition of democracy which is absent in mainland Europe.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Phillip, I don’t think you’ve grasped what I’m saying. I am willing to take responsibility for that.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Phillip, I failed to emphasise adequately that the point is the embedding of a tradition within a people, in a way that they themselves are not aware of until or unless events bring it out.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I do!

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      “The UK has had universal male suffrage since 1918, this was introduced in France in 1792… Please do not try to claim that the UK has a tradition of democracy which is absent in mainland Europe.”

      Anybody who tries to claim that France under the Terror (1793) then Napoleon was superior to England as a democracy (in the only meaningful sense, of being able to vote out the principal decision-makers)… need I finish this sentence?

  3. Sovereignty, as Peter says, is a very nebulous concept to risk your economic future for. Sovereignty for whom? And over what? Many aspects of our lives are completely ungovernable. The corporate world holds sway over much of what happens.

    At what level should decisions be made? Localism is a bit of a buzz word in local politics. As a councillor at the very lowest tier, we have some debates as to whether we should take more functions from the next tier up (Borough or County councils). But on whichever level governance operates there will be people who feel that it is too remote, and they are not being listened to.

    I feel that Brussels and Strasbourg are no more remote than Westminster. And that there are functions which are more naturally governed from one or the other. As far as the referendum goes, the ideas that our participation in Horizon2020 may be put at risk by exit, and that UK citizens might lose the right of free movement within Europe, are absolutely the killer arguments. And if there is any truth in the Treasury forecasts, if the loss per family is even a tenth of Osbourne’s headline figure, then it is not worth that. So I will be voting to stay.

  4. As a ‘continental’ living in the UK, not sure where I fall on this scale of being allowed to speak. And a bit ironic perhaps, but in this democratic country I don’t have the vote. To get a vote I need to pay quite a lot of money. But in my impression, the UK has the best connection between the MPs and the public, and I am impressed how the local MP (at least our previous one – have not yet heard from the new one) helped people who did not vote for him. On the other hand, Scandinavia has a better tradition of democratic government (i.e. an embedded culture of their politicians), Germany has a better tradition of social responsibility, Italy a better tradition of family responsibility, and France has better coffee. If unbroken length of democratic process is important, Iceland beats the UK by several hundred years, but it may not count as continent.

  5. Anton Garrett Says:

    David Cameron has just claimed that Brexit would make a world war more likely. Why doesn’t he just say what he is thinking, that it will cause the mid-atlantic rift to open, inducing a tsunami that will sweep over the country, then a black hole to pass through London and the earth, then the sun to explode?

    • telescoper Says:

      “..the European Community, now the Union, has helped to deliver a period of peace and prosperity as long as any since the days of the Antonine emperors.”

      – Boris Johnson

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        That he now suggests differently says more about Boris Johnson – no hero of mine – than the causes of peace in Western Europe since 1945 (principally NATO, in my view). This is not the only U-turn of Boris’s I could document.

      • telescoper Says:

        Indeed. Turkey’s possible membership is another.

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