Sweden “second biggest EU contributor”

Sweden’s contribution to the European Union in 2004 was the second biggest per head of population of any member state.

But the European budget commissioner says she thinks that the “numbers game” is uninteresting.

“The discussion about who pays most and who gets most poisons the atmosphere in the EU,” said Dalia Grybauskaite, presenting the EU’s income and expenditure for 2004 at a press conference.

You can’t just count euro for euro, you need also to look at the other values for which the EU stands, she argued.

Despite this, she pointed to a diagram which showed member states’ wealth, and compared it to how much they pay in contributions to the EU. The diagram showed that Britain pays much less than it “ought” to.

According to the commissioner’s interpretation of the figures, Sweden pays what it should.

Last year Sweden paid about 24 billion kronor and received 10 billion back in the form of agricultural subsidies and regional aid.

The difference corresponds to a net contribution of 0.38 percent of national income. Only the Netherlands had a higher figure, and Germany was in third place with 0.33 percent. Italy, France, Britain, Austria, Denmark and Finland were also shown as net contributors.

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TT/The Local