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Europe

Germany Pays Biggest Share of Europe's Budget

Germany paid more than any other country for its membership in the European Union, 114 billion euros ($179 billion). Greece got the most money from the bloc, according to a report released on Friday, June 27.

Money on the EU flag

Some EU countries pay in more than others

Boosting economic growth and jobs is the single most expensive part of the EU budget, surpassing cash handouts to farmers, according to figures presented by the European Commission.

Germany made the largest net contribution to the bloc's budget, paying in 7.4 billion euros more than it received back from the EU. Germany has long been the EU's biggest net contributor, paying in just over 70 billion euros over the last decade.

But in 2007, Britain overtook the Netherlands and France to become the EU's second-highest net contributor, paying out 4.2 billion euros more than it received -- despite having a 5.2-billion-euro rebate.

France dropped to third place, paying in 3 billion euros compared with the Dutch sum of 2.9 billion.

Greece gets most

At the other end of the spectrum, Greece received 5.4 billion euros more from the EU budget than it paid in, making it the EU's biggest recipient for the second year running.

EU newcomer Poland, by far the largest and now the poorest in per capita terms of the countries which joined the EU in 2004, came in second, receiving 5.1 billion euros more than it paid in.

And Spain, which was the EU's largest recipient of net payments from 1998 to 2005, making a profit over the period of a massive 59.6 billion euros, came in third in 2007, netting 3.6 billion euros.

Rural, costal areas profit

The EU's budget is the subject of fierce wrangling every year as member states jostle to get more money from the common fund. The most famous row of all came in 1984, when Britain's then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher proclaimed, "I want my money back!" and threatened to stop Britain's EU payments unless she received a rebate.

That dispute was based on the immense sums paid to European farmers out of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which at that time took around two-thirds of the total budget, and from which Britain received relatively little.

But Friday's figures showed that EU spending was no longer so dominated by the CAP. According to officials, the 27-member union spent 44 billion euros on employment and economic programs in 2007.

That figure is 3.7 per cent more than in 2006, and tops the 43 billion euros paid out to farmers, making 2007 the first year in which growth and employment projects were the single biggest category of EU funding recipients.

However, the EU also paid out 12 billion euros on rural development, fisheries and environmental protection -- meaning that close on half its budget was still spent in supporting rural and coastal areas.

Among the EU's members, France received over 10 billion euros for farming and rural development - almost 50 per cent more than any other EU country. Britain received 4.2 billion euros, while Poland received 3.1 billion.

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