The Cost of the EU

The cost of the EU was (dishonestly) cited as a reason for Britain to leave it, but the benefits almost certainly exceed the costs.

Those who argued against Britain’s membership of the EU often cite its cost as a major concern.  As noted previously (, the Leave campaign repeatedly claimed that “We [the UK] send the EU £350 million a week” – although this was a gross exaggeration and took no account of the obvious economic benefits:

●  Frictionless trade saves the cost of customs processes, and free trade benefits both sides of a relationship as described earlier (3.5.4).

●  The cost of economic and employment regulation is shared.

●  Britain’s finance sector benefited from being in the EU.  In February 2021, for example, it was reported that London loses out as Europe’s top share trading hub.

These purely economic benefits are in addition to the social and political benefits mentioned earlier (  The cost of the EU is certainly an issue, and it is also possible to point at instances of corruption and waste – although measures are being taken to combat this.  Just as with a national tax system (3.2.4), contributions are calculated on the basis of ability to pay.  Richer countries have more to lose economically from strife, so their additional contributions are at least partly justifiable in terms of their greater benefits from stability.

The benefits of EU membership in financial terms almost certainly exceed the costs, but they are impossible to quantify.



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6655.htm.