Flanders We pay too much to the EU!

15 January 2010

De Standaard: Na Belgiƫ is ook Europa te duur

One of the most repeated arguments used by Eurosceptics is that the EU costs too much, and that ‘we’ pay too much in return for too little. Some people and politicians in Belgium feel the same way, which may come across as strange, since many EU institutions are based in their capital. This sentiment is especially strong among some Flemings.

According to the (very) right-wing Vlaams Belang, the Flemings are the highest nett payer to the EU per capita. Each inhabitant in Flanders (Dutch-speaking Belgium) paid €286 nett in 2008. The Walloons (French-speaking Belgians) paid €143 per person. The Dutch were the highest per capita nett payer as a country at €273.40, and for comparative purposes, the Swedes paid €193.70, the Germans €136.10 and the French €72 per head.

Belgium as a whole paid 4,600 million euros, but received 2,300 million euros in various EU funds, hence the nett payment was 2,300 million euros. However, since Flanders paid in 65% of the Belgian contribution, but only received 55% of the EU funds allocated to Belgium, and Wallonia paid 35% of the burden and received 45% of the funds in return, there is a pretty large disparity between the two areas.* Vlaams Belang naturally dislikes this state of affairs.

But, surely the presence of so many Eurocrats must be a boon for Brussels, Flanders, and Belgium? Well, not quite, according to the party, since their existence means higher property prices, and the locals are being priced out from the property market.

Note (*): The figures don’t quite add up when looked in detail, but that’s probably to do with figures rounded up or down for convenience. Also it’s unclear where Brussels fits into this picture.