Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

De bijdragen van de lidstaten aan het EU-budget

Het EU-budget is gecompliceerd en blijft een bron van discussie, zo bleek vorige maand. Ook eind 2014 eiste de Europese Commissie forse extra bijdragen van verschillende lidstaten, terwijl andere lidstaten gecompenseerd werden. Nederland moest een extra bijdrage leveren van 642,7 miljoen euro, war vervolgens tot politiek gemor leidde.

De financiering van de EU komt van nationale bijdragen, die worden berekend op basis van schattingen. Als deze niet overeenkomen met de uiteindelijke werkelijke cijfers, moeten lidstaten een extra bijdrage leveren of krijgen ze geld terug. Hoewel dit systeem niet nieuw is, roepen de uitzonderlijk hoge extra bijdragen veel reactie op. 

Marie-Therese Gold, Montesquieu Instituut Maastricht, licht deze systematiek in haar onderstaande engelstalige bijdrage toe. 

The EU´s budget is complicated. It is complex. And it is critically scrutinised by Member States. It has been the source of political debate and disagreement in the past decades and it still is today. Most recently, the issue was high on the agenda. In late 2014, the European Commission claimed supplementary payments from several Member States, while others were compensated.

As such, the EU has no competence to raise taxes. The EU´s budget is funded through a system of so-called ´own resources`. However, the EU Treaties do not define the details of the system. It is the Council that adopts by unanimity the system of own resources.[1] Subsequently, this decision has to be approved by Member States – in most cases by means of parliamentary approval. The European Parliament is consulted.

In a nutshell, the current financing of the EU relies on several own resources, namely national contributions based on the gross national income as well as national contributions based on value-added tax, traditional own resources (for example custom duties) and other revenues such as fines imposed on companies for breaching competition law.[2] The national contributions by each EU Member State are calculated based on a system that includes a variety of correction mechanism, most prominently the UK rebate.

The contributions paid by Member States are based on estimates. Member States report the relevant data for the calculation of their respective gross national income and value-added tax contributions to Eurostat.[3]  Due to this mechanism, adjustments are needed once the actual numbers are known. An ex-post review determines whether the estimates match the actual numbers. If that is not the case, Member States either have to transfer supplementary payments or on the contrary they receive compensation for too high contributions.

Contributions 2014

While this system in itself is nothing new, the exceptionally high supplementary payments announced by the Commission in late 2014 have triggered quite some reactions.[4] The highest supplementary payment occurred for the UK with 2,1 billion Euro. The adjustment for the Netherlands amounted to 642, 7 million Euro. On the contrary, France was compensated by 1,01 billion Euro. It seems that these unusual high adjustments result from technical recalculations affecting the years back to 1995.[5]

The Council debated the issue during its meeting on 07 November 2014 and decided to invite the Commission to initiate a reform of the relevant provisions so as to take into consideration exception circumstances which would allow Member States to submit the supplementary payments in tranches. The Council adopted such amendment on 18 December 2014. At the same time, a high-level group on own resources – the Monti Group – is in the process of carrying out a review of the general system with final recommendations expected in 2016. No doubt that the political debate on these issues will continue.


[1] Cf. Art. 311 (3) TFEU.

[2] Cf. A D´Alfonso, ´Annual revision of national contributions to the EU budget` European Parliament Briefing, November 2014, PE 542.161, 2ff.

[3] Cf. J Dominik, ´Statement on the revision of member states´ gross national income (GNI)` Brussels 27 October 2014 <http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-14-723_en.htm> accessed 10 May 2015.

[4] Cf. J Crisp, ´ Furious Cameron vows not to pay EU budget bill` Euractiv.com <http://www.euractiv.com/sections/uk-europe/furious-cameron-vows-not-pay-eu-budget-bill-309490> accessed 10 May 2015.

[5] For details see: A D´Alfonso, ´Annual revision of national contributions to the EU budget` European Parliament Briefing, November 2014, PE 542.161, 5.


Deze bijdrage verscheen in de Hofvijver van 1 juni 2015.