• EU spending hit 99 percent of the planned budget in 2006 (Photo: EUobserver.com)

EU spending closer to budget target

16.04.07 @ 09:21

  1. By Helena Spongenberg

The European Union has become better at spending money resulting in EU capitals getting back less of their annual membership fee, the European Commission has announced.

The surplus is the lowest since 2000 with the EU executive arguing that it is becoming better at managing EU funds and hitting the target of EU funding by a factor of 99 percent, it said on Friday (13 April).

Out of the €107.4 billion EU spending finally agreed on for 2006 only €950 million was left unused - down from €1 billion in 2005.

"Improved budget management and better planning help protect taxpayers' interests," said EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite in a statement.

"The budget is used in a more efficient way and member states pay only what is really needed," she added.

Unlike companies, the European Union is not allowed to make any profit and any surplus is therefore channelled back to EU member states' coffers by way of a rebate on the year's EU fee.

Germany – the bloc's main contributor – will get the lion's share of the surplus with a return of €355 million while Britain will follow with €308 million and France with €291 million.

The EU's smallest country Malta will get only €1 million back as reduced contributions are calculated on the basis of their respective share in EU Gross National Income.

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