The study has found that during a seven year period, which ends next year, Britain will have paid almost £30 billion into the EU’s ‘structural and cohesion funds’ targeted at Europe’s poorest areas; but they’ll have received under £9 billion back.
According to the study, for every pound which the Treasury contributed, seventy pence is spent elsewhere in Europe, twenty-five pence returns to the same region and five pence is redistributed between the richer and poorer regions in Britain.
Whilst the study concludes that there is a strong case for richer EU countries to continue to subsidise poorer ones, it also states that large savings could be made if Britain managed its own regional policy.
The author of the study, Pawel Swidlicki, has called for the government to revive a previous British demand for reform by which EU members would pay for their own regional funding, with Brussels spending limited to countries that have less than ninety percent of the European average income.
Mr Swidlicki said: “This could save the UK up to £4.2bn. If this money was re-invested in the UK regions, along with the amount that is currently spent via the EU, the receipts of each UK region should increase by around forty-five percent compared to the amount of grants they currently get.
"The coalition should match the pledge made by the previous Labour government and seek to bring regional policy back to the UK. The economic, social and democratic arguments clearly point in favour of this policy option."
The European Commission, which administers the EU regional policy has challenged Open Europe’s figures, saying: “We don't know what these calculations are based on.
"Last year 271 regions, including 150 in richer countries, signed a letter supporting EU funding amid concern that national policies would see cuts to spending. Having an EU policy is crucial to realise a consistent regional policy of getting investment into poorer areas.”
For more information, please contact Glazers, Chartered Accountants London or visit www.glazers.co.uk
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