Brussels (dpa) – Germany paid a record amount into the budget of the European community last year, despite the corona crisis.
According to calculations by the German news agency, about 19.4 billion euros net was transferred to Brussels in 2020. On balance, France contributed about half with 9.5 billion euros, Italy with about 6.3 billion euros less than a third.
According to the dpa’s calculations, Poland was the largest net recipient in absolute numbers, taking 12.4 billion euros more from the EU budget than it paid out. This was followed by Greece with 5.6 billion euros and Romania and Hungary with about 4.7 billion euros each.
Poland and Hungary under attack
The numbers are particularly explosive because of the large flows of money to Poland and Hungary. Both states have been criticized for being accused of serious violations of the rule of law and other fundamental values of the EU. That is why the voices for reducing EU payments to Hungary and Poland are currently growing louder.
“If we want to prevent Hungary and Poland from developing further into autocracies, the European Commission must immediately stop paying EU money to Warsaw and Budapest,” for example, demanded German green MEP Daniel Freund. Even Parliament’s Vice-President Katarina Barley (SPD) has recently made a clear statement in this direction.
The EU commission, which is responsible for both the EU budget and the rule of law in the EU, declined to comment on the figures at the bp’s request. The Brussels government has not published the balance sheets for some time because it fears the figures could be used politically – for example by EU opponents in the net contributing countries.
Germany benefits from the EU
In addition, the Commission points out that the EU budget is very small compared to the national budget and that the benefits of EU membership cannot be derived from budgetary figures alone. For example, it is argued that the financial advantages enjoyed by exporting countries such as Germany are neglected by the free movement of goods.
You can also see this in Berlin. “No other European economy benefits as much from the EU’s internal market as Germany’s,” reads a federal government website. Germany puts a lot of money into the EU pot, but profits even more from it. How much money an EU country has to pay to the Community budget largely depends on its share of the EU’s economic power.
Rule of law violations can lead to a reduction in funding
Does the German reading mean that everything is clear for Hungary and Poland? Probably not. Under pressure from countries such as Germany, a new instrument was created last year that allows EU countries to cut resources from the community budget if the money threatens to abuse the rule of law. According to the European Commission, the first procedures will start in the autumn.
The problem, however, is that the cuts shouldn’t actually have any negative effects on ordinary people. How this is to be achieved is as yet unclear, as the vast majority of EU spending is still paid to secure farmers’ incomes and the money to support relatively weak regions or for infrastructure projects or research also provides numerous jobs.