News > The EU explained: What it costs & how it works with EMUK

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  • 7th January 2015 - 11:48 GMT
Bridging EU decision making

The EU explained: What it costs & how it works with EMUK

Origins: The origins of the EU are in the post-war efforts for European reconciliation and integration. Beginning with 6 countries and 170 million people the EU now has 28 members with about 500 million people, bringing together Europe, from the west coast of Ireland to the east of Poland and from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia. Today the EU is the richest and most influential trading bloc in the world.  Britain joined in 1973.


What the EU costs

The UK’s contribution to EU Budget

100% £1750 billion = size of UK economy in 2014 = £4800 million per day = about £75 a day per person.

40% £730 billion is UK government spending for 2014-15 = £2000 million per day = £31 a day per person

0.4% £6-7 billion is UK net contribution to EU budget = £18 million per day = 30p a day per person


UK Jobs

100% There are about 30 million people in work in the UK in 2014.

14% About 4.2 million of those jobs are linked to being in the EU, according to Treasury estimates.

50% About half of UK foreign trade is with our fellow EU countries.



The EU Budget

100% The total size of the economies of all 28 countries for 2014 is €14,300 billion (£11,300 billion)

50% The combined government spending in those 28 countries is about half the size of the EU economy

1% The maximum allowed size of the EU budget is only about 1% of the GDP of the EU.

0.4% Only a small part of the EU budget moves money from some richer countries to poorer ones. Just 40% of the EU budget of 1% of the EU economy is transferred from rich to poor countries, which is a mere 40p out of every £100 of the EU economy.


The EU Bureaucracy

The EU directly employs about 50,000 people and the EU contains over 500 million citizens.  That means there is 1 EU employee for every 10,000 EU citizens.

The UK employs about 450,000 civil servants which is about 1 for every 140 UK citizens.

The UK has about 70 times more civil servants in its bureaucracies than does the EU.


How the EU works

What is the EU?  The EU is the invention of a new type of international organisation. It is the first democratically assembled group of nations. Previously civilisations have been assembled by conquerors, aristocracies or priesthoods. It brings together sovereign nations, which come together in supranational and intergovernmental structures, in pursuit of their common interests and to address their common challenges, in an increasingly globalised and competitive world.

The EU contains old historic nations, with democratic governments, free market economies, and reliable rule of law, working together in a poly-democracy, or multi-democracy. It has its own special institutions for making and keeping its laws and rules. What follows is a simple outline of them.


EU Institutions: The Trinities.

Composed of :-
1 Commissioner from each country Committees of Ministers from all member states 751 MEPs directly elected every 5 years by all EU voters


Making EU laws

The Commission proposes laws. The Council of Ministers debate and amend them as do the MEPs, who have specialist committees for assessing EU laws and regulations. Laws must be based upon specific articles of EU treaties. Laws are often proposed at the request of member governments. (The notion that governments are the helpless victims of the EU is not based on the facts. Governments have more representatives in all the Councils of Ministers than there are MEPs.)


EU Double Democracy 

Only countries with democratically elected governments and reliable rule of law can be in the EU. Those governments are represented in the Councils of Ministers. MEPs are directly elected by all EU voters to make a parliament for the whole of the EU. Laws are debated and passed by both sets of representatives so that the EU functions as a double democratic system.


The Courts

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is in Luxembourg, and it exits to interpret and enforce EU laws only.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and is not an EU court. It is a court of the Council of Europe, set up in 1949 by the Treaty of London (sic!). The UK was a founder member of the Council of Europe and its human rights court.

The Council of Europe and the EU are different organisations and their courts in Strasbourg and Luxembourg are entirely separate as well.

The European Movement UK is Britain’s longest standing pro-European organization, campaigning for decades to inform the debate around the benefits of EU membership. With branches across the UK and partner organisations around Europe, we work to build a free, prosperous, secure and democratic Europe, beyond nationalism and without wars.


We are a grassroots, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, funded by our members. Visit to see how you can join us and help keep Britain in the EU.

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