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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 26 November 2013

EU's Financial Report 2012: EU budget increasingly an investment tool in the EU

The 2012 Financial Report published today by the European Commission shows that 94% of the total EUR 135.6 billion of the EU 2012 budget was dedicated to beneficiaries across Europe such as researchers, students, small and medium enterprises, towns and regions and NGOs.

In 2012, the EU budget increased funding in areas stimulating growth, creating employment, and investing in research and education:

  • With EUR 9.6 billion last year the Cohesion Fund contributed to the building of 1,274 km of roads and 950 km of railways.

  • 17,374 EU research funding requests were received last year and EUR 7.8 billion distributed through the 7th Framework Programme on Research.

  • EUR 1.2 billion was invested in long-life learning.

The report also shows that the EU remains a world leader in humanitarian aid providing assistance to more than 122 million people in over 90 countries beyond EU borders.

The share of administrative expenditure (salaries, pensions, buildings…) remained stable in 2012 at 6% of the total EU budget

In a year marked by financial difficulties, the 2012 EU budget continued to provide funding and support investments in Europe’s citizens and regions, Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Janusz Lewandowski said. The high implementation of the budget confirms the increased importance of EU funding during the emerging economic recovery".

Top beneficiaries

Poland with EUR 15.7 billion (followed by Spain and France) was the biggest recipients of EU funding in absolute terms. When comparing the volume of EU funding received to the Gross National Income, Estonia is the top beneficiary followed by Latvia and Lithuania.

Germany (followed by France, UK and Spain) remained the top beneficiary of EU funds used in areas such as research and innovation; Poland gained most from cohesion funding. France was the biggest recipient of agricultural funds followed by Germany, Spain and Italy. The Netherlands ranked as the top recipient in the area of freedom, security and justice, while Italy, followed by Belgium, tops the "citizenship" section of the EU budget.

Member States contributions to the EU budget

The report traditionally provides the information on "operating budgetary balances", the difference between what Member States contribute to the EU budget and the amount of EU funds they receive. This calculation gives only an incomplete picture of the cost vs. benefits of being in the EU as it does not take into account various parameters such as the financial benefits any Member State derives from the Internal Market or from its private companies being awarded contracts in EU funded projects in other countries.

The Member States affected by the crisis (Greece, Portugal and Spain) are among top net beneficiaries in 2012, whereas the biggest net contributors are Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

The biggest economies contribute the most to the EU budget. In 2012, the wealth (expressed by the GNI indicator) of net contributors increased by 2.4% on average, while the GNI of net beneficiaries stayed practically the same due to the economic crisis. As the EU budget has an inbuilt solidarity, this explains why, in some cases, net contributions increased.

Moreover, most Member States improved the implementation of cohesion policy funds and other investment programmes allocated to them and received more funds from the agriculture policy; these factors also explain the small increase in contributions from net contributors.

The EU budget 2012 financial report is available on:

Contacts :

Patrizio Fiorilli (+32 2 295 81 32)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


EU budget 2012 – Implemented payments (million EUR)

EU revenue 2012

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