Published on 22 Nov 2012 Sections , ,

Trillion euro question: who wants what from EU budget?

The scrapping over how much money EU countries must contribute to the bloc’s seven-year budget is underway in earnest – but what exactly does each state want?

What is, in effect, the EU‘s piggy bank for the next seven years also goes by the wonderfully eurocratic name of “the next multiannual financial framework”.

The current proposal being put forward by the European Commission for the budget is around 1tr euros (1,053bn euros).

Herman van Rompuy, president of the European Council (which decides the general political direction and priorities of the EU), has put forward a compromise plan which would see a real terms cut of 20bn euros on that compared with the previous budget.

The budget provides agricultural subsidies (which France and possibly Germany are keen to protect), funding for roads and infrastructure projects, as well as research and development. States are bickering over changes to the different areas which make up the budget, with poorer nations unwilling to accept cuts to spending on infrastructure.

Each of the 27 EU members can veto the budget, so more than the usual amount of teeth-gritting and arm-twisting is expected over the coming weeks.

The bitter financial bunfight, otherwise known as the budget discussions, is presided over by the financially strapped Cypriots, and highlights once again who contributes what to the union and how much each state receives in return.

Countries which get out more than they put in include poorer nations such as the biggest EU beneficiary Poland, the Baltic states and Hungary. The countries which put in more than they take out (somewhat bizarrely known as “net contributors”) include Germany, France, and the second largest net-contributor, the UK.

The latter are part of a coalition known as the Friends of Better Spending – in opposition to the former, who are the Friends of Cohesion.

Battle lines

Below are some of the battle lines which some member states have drawn so far in the negotiations – thanks to Open Europe for the data.


Wants the commission to freeze the budget at 2011 levels and has threatened to use its veto.


Called for its own lump sum rebate and vowed to veto the budget unless this is delivered.


Has said it will veto the budget if the eventual plan does not “maintain” the current level of spending on the common agricultural policy (CAP).


Agrees with the UK that spending must be limited but not in favour of reducing spending as much as David Cameron wants.


Has expressed concerns over cuts to the infrastructure budget, especially those proposed under Herman Van Rompuy’s plan.


Wants to limit its contribution due to its stalling economy, though has not explicitly threatened a veto. Keen to protect areas such as regional spending.