EU Referendum

Reality Check: Where does EU money go in the UK?

Graphic of where EU money goes in the UK

The UK pays more to the EU than it receives in EU funding. But how are the funds that are received, spent in the UK?

EU money, both here and in the rest of the EU, is spent according to the Union's spending priorities. The biggest two areas are agriculture and development.

In 2014, the UK received a total of 6.984bn euros (£5.5bn) of EU money or around 5% of the overall payments the EU made in that year.

By far the largest share of the money, 56.6%, went to agriculture, followed by 25% invested into projects benefitting poorer areas and 15% to research, education and innovation.

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Agriculture and fisheries

In 2014, the UK received almost 4bn euros (£3.1bn) for agriculture and fisheries, ranking sixth among EU member states. It is aimed at ensuring the economic viability of farmers.

Most of the money, £2.6bn, was given to farmers as direct payments - so called because, despite the fact that the EU does not make them directly to the farmers across the bloc, it transfers them to the treasuries of the EU countries which then make the payments. The average amount of payment per beneficiary in 2015 was £17,000-18,000 with the highest individual payment of around £8m.

Rural development projects received £567m. For example, the Cywain Agriculture Project received £1.5m of EU funding over five years to improve the competitiveness of Welsh agriculture.

Compared to payments for agriculture, projects that support fishing, processing and marketing of fishery products get a very small proportion of the money. Between 2014 and 2020, the UK will receive 243m euros (£191m) from the EU fisheries fund.

Development of poorer areas

A total of 1.7bn euros (£1.3bn) of the UK's money from the EU budget went into projects benefitting the least-developed regions of the country as well as supporting social cohesion and job opportunities.

According to the UK government, projects funded by the European Regional Development Fund have helped 24,767 new businesses and created around 114,889 jobs for local people in the UK between 2007 and 2013.

There is a large number and range of projects financed by this part of EU funding: from FoodWISE a project helping 250 small and medium-sized businesses across the south-east of England and SmartLIFE to help make housing affordable and sustainable in the North Sea region, to the Eco-Hub project which transformed a former stable block in a deprived area in Southend-on-Sea into a multi-purpose eco-hub for disadvantaged budding entrepreneurs, Coventry International Transport Museum and Flexible Families, which provided support to parents of young children to get employment.

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Research, education, innovation

The UK received more than 1bn euros (£787m) - almost 15% of the total - for research, education, and innovation.

The EU's main funding instrument in this area is Horizon2020, which allocates money to research projects all over the EU.

A Horizon2020 brief by the European Commission, published in 2015, shows that roughly 14% of the programme's agreements have been signed with UK institutions and that the UK is the second highest recipient of financial contributions of this programme after Germany.

The UK projects which received funding from Horizon2020 include: the new state-of-the-art research facilities for stem cell research and regenerative medicine at the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh; project EPIFEMCARE, led by researchers at Lincoln and London and developing blood tests that could lead to the earlier detection of ovarian and breast cancers; CODEMAP, a project that aims to map and investigate complex deep sea environments to obtain a full, three-dimensional picture of its habitats and a project at the University of Manchester of further research into graphene, for which two of the university's scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

Charities such as Cancer Research UK have also benefited from the EU funding.

Erasmus+ is another flagship programme benefitting education across the EU. In 2013/14 more than 15,000 students from the UK took part in the EU-sponsored exchange programme.

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Administration

The UK received only a small proportion of the money from the EU budget which is spent on administration - 149m euros (£117m).

The administration includes payments for EU staff salaries and pensions, buildings and infrastructure, information technology and security to those with legal residence in the UK.

Other areas

The European Medicines Agency, an EU agency responsible for the protection of public and animal health through the scientific evaluation and supervision of medicines, is based in London. It received 37.3m euros (£29.3m) in 2014.

The European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO), based in London, has received funding from EU's Creative Europe.

High-Rise, a film by Ben Wheatley starring Tom Hiddleston, received funding from the same fund as have many other film and art projects.


Read more: The facts behind claims in the EU debate


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