Friday, June 03, 2005

Ireland has the best of both worlds in the European Union

Michael Hennigan:

Ireland heads GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita in the European Union, according to figures released on Friday June 3rd. In ranking terms Luxembourg is number 1, but its figures are distorted, as a large portion of its workforce lives in neighbouring countries.

In 2003, Ireland was the biggest per capita net beneficiary from the EU budget while the Netherlands was the biggest net payer.

Here is how Ireland has benefitted:

Ireland has massively benefited from inward US investment, by providing a low tax, business friendly non-unionised environment for primarily American firms. At the same time Dutch and German taxpayers are funding our farmers who are effectively depending on public welfare for two-thirds of their income.

So while the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Mary Harney can brag that Ireland is closer to Boston and Berlin, we have been lucky so far that the taxpayers in Berlin haven't reacted to our continued cash benefits from the EU treasure trove.

The Dutch taxpayers are at last waking up to a reality that they are the highest per capita contributors to the EU budget while Ireland is the highest net beneficiary.

Earlier this month, the European Commission issued an analysis of the 2003 budget. In absolute terms, most of the funds went to recipients in Spain, France, Italy and Germany. However, on the basis of national income, Portugal and Greece were the main recipients, followed by Ireland and Spain. Among net recipients, the net balance – the difference between payments into the EU budget and returns in the form of operational expenditure – was highest for Portugal (2.66% of GNI-Gross National Income). Among net contributors, the balance was highest for the Netherlands (-0.43% of GNI), followed by Germany and Sweden.

Only four countries benefited from EU money in 2003- Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain - while the rest were net contributors. In terms of cash per head, the funding amounted to a net receipt of €391.70 for each Irish national. At the other of the scale, Dutch, Luxembourg and German nationals pay €120, €125 and €92.7 respectively, while each Briton pays €46.50.

EU unemployment stable at 8.9%: Ireland lowest at 4.2%


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