Finland among smallest net contributors in EU
Only EUR 750 million spent on EU membership costs so far
It has been repeatedly said that Finland became a net contributor to the European Union in 2001. Usually, when talking about EU payments, the focus has been on contributions to, and payments received from the EU in a single year.
But how much has Finland paid into the EU over the whole of Finnish membership? There are no comprehensive statistics, but Helsingin Sanomat ventured to calculate a rough estimate of the price of EU membership on the basis of budget statistics of the European Commission.
Statistics have been completed through 2007, and last year’s figures are not yet available.
When payments received are subtracted from contributions to the EU, Finland will have made a net contribution of about EUR 750 million into EU coffers between 1995 and 2007. Therefore, the net payment during 13 years of Finnish EU membership has not even reached a billion.
The Netherlands, Italy, France, and the UK paid EUR 2-4 billion into the EU in 2007 alone. Germany’s net contribution at the same time was nearly 7.5 billion.
By comparison, the entire state budget of Finland is about EUR 40 billion a year.
The calculation is very rough, and not all payments have been taken into account. In addition, some payments or refunds can be deferred to the next year. The Commission also calculates the payments in a different manner than the Finnish Ministry of Finance does. Nevertheless the calculation gives some kind of scale.
In any case, Finland is one of the EU’s smallest net contributors. For instance, in the most recent statistical year, 2007, Finland’s net contribution to the EU was 0.1 per cent of GDP. Only Cyprus had a smaller net contribution.
At its highest, Finland’s net contributions have reached the level of 0.16 per cent of GDP. The largest net contributors pay more than 0.5 per cent of GDP into the EU.
The entire EU budget is slightly under one per cent of the combined GDPs of all of the member states. By comparison, the Finnish state budget is about 25 per cent of Finland’s GDP.
With the money in its budget, the EU implements the common policies of the EU, and pays agricultural subsidies, for instance. The European Parliament, which will be elected in June, will vote on the EU’s budget.
The EU gets its revenue from the member states - as percentages of both GDP and of state revenue from VAT. Some revenue also comes from import fees of agricultural products from outside the EU, and other EU border tariffs.
The biggest expenditure of the EU - 45 per cent of all revenue - is in regional and structural policy, or support for poor areas. The money is distributed to member states through institutions such as the Regional Development Fund, and the European Social Fund. Finland also receives some of this money. A smaller proportion of the money goes to promoting competitiveness.
Nearly as much, 43 per cent, goes to the various forms of agricultural support. This also includes environmental subsidies.
The EU’s own administrative costs, including rental for premises and the pay of civil servants, accounts for less than six per cent of the spending. The European Parliament accounts for about 20 per cent of the EU’s administrative costs.