NEWS

Greece gets biggest funds boost from EU

BRUSSELS – Greece remained the largest beneficiary of EU funding from the Union’s budget again in 2001, according to figures released by the European Commission yesterday. The community funds that flowed into Greece in one form or another came to 3.5 percent of GNP in 2001, reaching a total of 4.5 billion euros (or 1.53 trillion drachmas) after the reduction of 1.35 billion euros that were Greece’s contribution to the EU budget. The net inflow of community funds in 2001 came to 5.72 billion euros, or 8.4 percent of the community’s budget. Its sources were basically three: the agriculture fund with 2.61 billion euros, the cohesion funds with 2.94 billion euros, and other policies with 166.8 million. It is clear that the positive effect of these funds on Greece’s GNP is, in reality, much higher. But even if only 3.5 percent of GNP is owed exclusively to the community budget (an amount very close to the country’s total annual GNP), it is indicative of the extent to which the Greek economy depends on this largesse. Especially if one notes that the second-largest beneficiary, Portugal, drew an amount equal to 1.5 percent of its GNP from the EU budget in 2001. The other recipients of cohesion funds were Spain (1.2 percent) and Ireland (1.1 percent). Greece, it must be noted, draws such amounts from the EU budget on a systematic basis, never having got less than an amount equal to 3.3 percent of GNP since 1995. It is quite clear what will follow when EU funding begins to dry up after 2006-8. At the other end of the EU’s wealth distribution system is Luxembourg, which, being the bloc’s richest country, contributed 0.66 percent of its GNP to the EU budget. It was followed by the Netherlands (which was first in 2000) with 0.54 percent, Sweden with 0.44 percent and Germany with 0.34 percent. Another way of approaching the subject – the more traditional one – is to see what percentage of the EU budget comes from which country. Here, as always because of the size of its own GNP, is Germany, which contributed 25.1 percent of the EU budget (from 25.34 percent the previous year), followed by France (19.6 percent), Italy (15.4 percent) and Spain (8.6 percent). The report, presented by Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer, presents data on the allocation of EU expenditure by member state and by policy. In 2001, total allocated operating expenditure amounted to 68.7 billion euros, representing 85.9 percent of total EU actual expenditure in that year. In absolute amounts, Spain again was the largest recipient of EU expenditure, followed by France, which was the biggest recipient in 2000. Germany was third, followed by Italy, Britain and Greece.