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Brussels, 22 nd September, 2009

EU Budget 2008 – Stable funding in unstable times

In a year marked by exceptional economic turbulence, the 2008 EU budget continued to provide stable funding without increasing the financial burden on Member States. The 2008 financial report presented by the Commission today shows how a record 40% of the 2008 budget's €116.5 billion was invested in measures linked directly to jobs, growth and competitiveness like the €6 billion committed for new research projects (€500m more than in 2007). Farm payments continued to fall taking 37% of funds, marginally less than 2007. In terms of EU GNI the 2008 budget was steady, rising only slightly to 0.94% (0.93% of EU GNI in 2007).

Presenting the EU Financial report 2008 in Brussels, Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget said " 2008's top spending areas in research, innovation and training for people to join the workforce are helping Europe move towards recovery. My priority today is to shorten the route and speed up the journey-time of these EU funds to their final destination. But much also depends on Member States, who need to do all they can to take up EU money fast and ensure quality spending."

In 2008, funds spent on competitiveness measures saw almost a 50% increase. Areas where competitiveness funds were committed include educati on (€1bn for student mobility programmes) and the EU’s flagship satellite project Galileo (€1bn). More generally, the share of overall agricultural spending decreased for direct payments and market interventions (€43.3bn). Rural development, environment and fisheries dropped from 10.5% to 10%, (€11.5bn). Spending on other policy areas remained constant, with 1% for citizenship, freedom, security and justice (€1.3bn), and 5% for the EU investment beyond Europe's borders.

Over 90% of the EU budget's funds or €105bn was spent directly on the ground in the EU's 27 Member States. The four biggest recipients were France, Spain, Germany and Italy, but their overall share fell from almost 48% to just over 45% (€47.3 bn). In contrast, the share of the EU12 continued to rise, reaching 19% (€19.7bn). Poland was still the largest recipient in nominal terms, with €7.6bn.

Looking at the EU's two major policy areas, agriculture and cohesion, spending was similar to 2007. In billions, France is still the top taker of agricultural support with €10bn, ahead of Spain (€7.1bn) and Germany (€ 6.6bn). For cohesion funding, Gree ce kept the biggest slice (€4.7bn), followed by Poland (€4.6bn), Spain (€4.3bn) and Italy (€3.7bn). The group of biggest receivers closed with the UK taking €3.8bn for agricultural funds and €2.1bn for cohesion, while at the same time benefiting from a €6.3bn rebate or reduction in the UK contribution to the EU budget.

2008 also saw more than half of Member States fail to exploit the full potential of the EU’s structural and cohesion funds from the previous programming period (2000-2006). Committed money that is not claimed as a payment within two years is lost (the n+2 rule). The amount Member states lost out on increased slightly from €227m in 2007 to €267m for 2008. With all the cash for the previous period now committed, the average implementation rate for all 25 relevant Member States (Romania and Bulgaria joined in 2007) is 90%, with Cyprus having spent a mere 74% and Austria and Finland coming out best having executed 95% of all payments. Spending rates for the new programming period (2007-2013) will be available at the end of 2009.

For the "EU budget 200 8 Financial Report" and accompanying documents see:

Commissioner Šemeta's website:

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