What is the EU's true cost?

Accurate information about the cost of the UK's membership of the EU is of ever-increasing importance. Unfortunately, the official statistics are opaque, confusing and inconsistent

Cost of EU membership to the UK annually

Regulations (1) £30.37bn
Annual membership cost (2) £14.3bn
Common Fisheries Policy (3) £4.7bn
Common Agricultural Policy (3) £16.7bn
Fines for failing to implement EU farming policy (4) £0.64bn
Total £66.71bn

This is an absolute minimum figure. One estimates places the cost at £118bn a year and another at £170bn a year


(1) Regulations – cost to business - £30.37bn annually

Open Europe estimates that the top 100 EU regulations cost the UK economy £30.37bn annually (2014 prices). Source: Open Europe, UK Government, Financial Conduct Authority. This is more than the £27bn the UK Treasury expects to raise in revenue from Council Tax in the current (2014-15) financial year.

The top five costliest EU-derived regulations in force in the UK:

  1. The UK Renewable Energy Strategy – Recurring cost: £4.7bn a year
  2. The CRD IV package – Recurring cost: £4.6bn a year
  3. The Working Time Directive – Recurring cost: £4.2bn a year
  4. The EU Climate and Energy Package – Recurring cost: £3.4bn a year
  5. The Temporary Agency Workers Directive – Recurring cost: £2.1bn a year

According to the IAs, these regulations also provide a total benefit of £58.6bn a year. In fact, Open Europe estimates that up to 95% of the benefits envisaged in the impact assessment have failed to materialise. This effectively reduces £58.6bn a year to £2.93bn savings which in turn adjusts the cost of regulations to the UK to £30.37bn for the top 100 regulations


(2) Annual Membership cost

UK's gross

UK abatement

Cash budget cost
to the UK

2011 - 2012

£16.1 billion

£2.8 billion

£13.3 billion

2012 - 2013

£16.4 billion

£3.6 billion

£12.8 billion

2013 - 2014

£17.6 billion

£4.0 billion

£13.6 billion

2014 - 2015

£18.6 billion

£4.3 billion

£14.3 billion



(3) Fisheries & Farming Policy figs.

Drawn from Gerard Batten MEP – “How much does the European Union cost Britain”

(4) Farming fines

The UK has racked up an “embarrassing” £640 million in fines as a result of failing to implement EU farming policy, new figures reveal, with the Government spending watchdog warning the figure could rise further.

The charges are a result of “shortcomings” in the way the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has administered the Common Agricultural Policy, including delays in payments to farmers.

The department is now considering investing up to £45 million to address issues, and Meg Hillier, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said it must “get to grip” to avoid “throwing away” more tax payers’ money.

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