Greece takes large share of EU pie

Greece and Poland emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the European Union’s budget last year, while Germany was the main paymaster, according to a report published by the European Commission yesterday. The report showed that Greece received 6.3 billion euros – or 2.7 percent of its annual economic output – more from the EU than it paid in membership dues, for farm aid and projects such as highway construction and cleaning up the environment. «For cohesion funding, Greece kept the biggest slice (4.7 billion euros), followed by Poland (4.6 billion euros), Spain (4.3 billion euros) and Italy (3.7 billion euros),» the Commission said in a statement. Cohesion spending refers to all of the programs (Structural Funds, Cohesion Fund etc) that aim to redress inequalities in the EU. The biggest group of receivers closed with the UK taking 3.8 billion euros for agricultural funds, 2.1 billion for cohesion funds and benefiting from a 6.3-billion-euro rebate or reduction in the country’s contribution to the EU budget. The European Commission’s report confirmed that Germany does the most among the EU’s 27 member states to finance the bloc, with its net contribution at 8.8 billion euros in 2008. In general, about 40 percent of last year’s 116.5-billion-euro budget was spent on measures for creating jobs, building infrastructure and increasing economic competitiveness. Farm subsidies accounted for 37 percent of EU spending.