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EU budget and the UK's contribution

Published Thursday, September 22, 2016

This note considers the EU's spending and how it is financed. It includes the UK's contributions and receipts to and from the EU budget and discusses the UK's rebate.

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The UK’s contribution to the EU budget

The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016. The UK will remain a member of the EU until its departure has been negotiated. The UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget until it formally departs the EU.

The UK makes its contributions to the EU budget in the same way as all Member States. However, the UK receives a rebate on its net contribution. The rebate was introduced in the mid-1980s to address the issue of the UK making relatively large net contributions to the EU budget.

The UK’s contribution to the EU budget, after the rebate was applied, was an estimated £12.9 billion in 2015. The UK received total public sector receipts from the EU budget of £4.4 billion, making an estimated net contribution of £8.5 billion in 2015.

UK contributions to, and receipts from, the EU budget

UK's contribution to, and receipts from, the EU budget

The EU’s spending

The EU’s spending is organised around a seven year period, known as the multiannual financial framework (MFF). The MFF sets out the EU’s spending priorities and sets spending limits for the seven years.

The current MFF covers the period 2014-20 and allows the EU to commit to spending of €960 billion (2011 prices). This is a real terms reduction on the previous MFF 2007-13.

During 2014-20, the majority of EU spending will be on ‘smart and inclusive growth’, and ‘sustainable growth: Natural resources’. These categories of spending include EU structural funding and common agricultural policy, respectively.

Categories of EU spending

The MFF isn’t the annual budget itself: rather, it provides a framework through which annual budgets can be negotiated. The European Commission, the Council and European Parliament negotiate annual budgets based on the MFF spending limits.

The EU’s revenues

The EU’s spending is largely funded from the EU’s so-called own resources. Member States make contributions through four kinds of own resources:

  • GNI-based contributions
  • Customs duties
  • Sugar levies
  • Contributions based on VAT

Roughly 75% of EU revenues come from GNI-based contributions, while VAT-based resources and the sum of custom duties and sugar levies contribute just over 10% each respectively.

Sources of EU revenues


Commons Briefing papers SN06455

Author: Matthew Keep

Topic: EU budget

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