In 2020, the UK effectively paid for EU’s largest subsidy: €12.4bn for Poland

(Don’t worry Poland, thanks to Mrs May’s EU divorce bill we’ll still be paying for you this year too.)

© Facts4EU.Org 2021

Facts4EU.Org reveals the 12.4 billion reasons why ‘Polexit’ may not be as imminent as you think

In this report we look at one interesting comparison when it comes to the United Kingdom, Poland, and the European Union’s finances.

Facts4EU.Org has analysed the EU Commission’s figures for last year, 2020, and can reveal that the UK’s net contribution to the EU’s bank account more than paid for the EU’s second-largest ever subsidy to a member country – its €12.4 billion 2020 subsidy to Poland. (It’s largest-ever subsidy was also to Poland: €13.4 billion in 2014.)

But we voted to leave in 2016, ‘left’ on 31 Jan 2020, and left again on 31 Dec 2020…?

Many British people wrongly now assume that as Boris “got Brexit done” in January last year, the UK has no longer been paying annual contributions to the EU from that date. This is – sadly - not true.

As a result of Theresa May’s agreement to a disastrous and unjustified ‘Divorce Bill’, the United Kingdom will continue to pay monies to the EU until the year 2064. That’s 53 years from now.

The British taxpayer effectively paid for the EU’s €12.4 bn Polish subsidy last year

In today’s report we look purely at 2020 – the year the UK supposedly left the EU. The figures below come from the EU Commission.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

How the UK's EU payments covered Poland's EU subsidy

  • Poland’s net subsidy from the EU budget : €12.42 billion (£10.7bn GBP)
  • UK’s net contribution to the EU budget : €12.88 billion (£11.1bn GBP)

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

Statistical note: These figures come from the EU Commission’s latest financial spreadsheets, issued last month. The net figures include budget contributions and receipts, as well as the customs duties which the EU Commission takes for goods imported from outside the EU. The figures do NOT include the sums which the UK has been paying into the EU’s ‘off-the-books’ funds (see below).

Want to travel “EU Class” to work today? Try Poland, courtesy of the UK taxpayer

Łódź has a population of just 685,000, making it smaller than Nottingham. The EU is spending UK money building an underground system there.

Facts4EU.Org Case Study

A new Underground for Łódź in Poland

Łódź Fabryczna station - Wikipedia Commons Licence - click to enlarge

In August 2018 the EU Commission approved additional expenditure on top of what it had already sanctioned, for some railway improvements in the city of Łódź, Poland. The last time we checked, the total was nearly £0.6 billion pounds.

Here is the EU’s statement:

“Łódź has two main stations: Łódź Fabryczna and Łódź Kaliska, which are currently not connected to each other. This is a major obstacle to the region’s transport development and an everyday inconvenience for those living in the city.

“In Łódź, the Cohesion Fund is financing the construction of an underground line between the two stations, and to Łódź Żabieniec station in the west of the city.”

- EU Regional & Urban Development Directorate, 28 Aug 2018

Here is what the then EU Commissioner said about this funding for the Lodz railway connection:-

“Soon, those living in the city will be able to get across town faster and will benefit from better interregional connections, with an effective and environmentally friendly transport system.”

- EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Ms Corina Crețu from Bulgaria, 28 Aug 2018

In summary, 'the EU' is financing a new underground system for Poland’s third city, Łódź, to make life easier for Polish people. In reality this sort of funding would not have been possible without the UK taxpayer.

Why did we single out Poland?

17 of the 27 EU member countries were net beneficiaries from the EU budget last year, so why did we single out Poland?

There are three reasons:

  1. Poland is the largest single beneficiary of ‘EU funds’ of any EU member country, and
  2. There has recently been media talk of a ‘Polexit’, with the Commission attacking Poland’s constitution, and
  3. Almost 1m Poles (975,180) had applied for UK settled status by Mar 2021 – largest of EU27 nationalities

In a future report we will reveal the details of the subsidies to all the other EU countries which are net beneficiaries from the EU budget.

The murky world of the EU’s finances

Perhaps one of the most newsworthy elements for the public has been the basic question: “What is the size of the UK’s net contribution to the EU’s coffers?”

Unfortunately this has always been understated in the official figures because all the summaries have failed to include the UK’s payments into the EU’s massive “off-budget” funds. We have always referred to these as ‘off-the-books’ payments, as that is effectively what they are. They have been a useful way for the UK Government and the EU Commission to disguise the full amount by which the British taxpayer was subsidising the EU each year.

These ‘off-the-books’ funds are substantial. However, for the purposes of this report we have NOT included the UK’s contributions to the EU’s off-the-books funds and are reporting solely on the official EU budget numbers. The UK’s actual payments to the EU will therefore be higher than we have shown.

Our analysis above has been reported in an article in the Daily Express and was promoted by them on social media. Readers can see their article here.


Let’s start our observations with a customary disclaimer. We have nothing against Poland, the Polish people, nor the almost 1m Poles who have chosen to make their home perfectly legally in the United Kingdom.

Our report above is about the EU and the UK’s relations with it. Poland just happens to be the biggest net beneficiary of ‘EU’ funds.

The great EU funding con-trick

The reality of course is that these are not EU funds at all. They are funds from member countries and the ‘surplus’ comes from the small number of countries which are net contributors into the EU’s budget (of which the UK has long been the second largest donor). Yet all the plaques on projects in Poland declare “Funded by the EU’s XYZ Fund”.

It would perhaps be more accurate if these plaques read “Financed mostly from the net funding by German and UK taxpayers, after the EU Commission had taken its cut”.

Over the last six years the Facts4EU.Org think-tank team has analysed the EU’s finances in more ways than we care to remember. We have done so because it was clear to us that the British public were not being presented with the full picture – by the Government, HM Treasury, the Office for Budget Responsibility, nor even the House of Commons Library research service.

What have all the billions been spent on?

The Facts4EU.Org think-tank has produced detailed reports on how the EU has re-distributed the UK’s net contributions. We have even published specific examples of how Poland’s infrastructure has been transformed with the use of British taxpayers’ money. (These are all available in our Brexit Index of more than 2,500 research reports.)

There are countless parts of the United Kingdom where local people would love to have seen the dramatic improvements in road, rail, and other infrastructure which have taken place in Poland since it joined the EU in 2004. The improvements have not been confined to transport facilities. Many aspects of Polish life are now substantially better thanks to the generosity of richer EU member countries – and in particular the UK and Germany.

With Polish people believing that it is 'EU funding' that has transformed significant parts of Poland's infrastructure and improved their lives, why would they vote to leave?

Readers will have their own views on the secretive wealth transfer that has taken place under the European Union. The most important thing, in our view, is that the public in the countries of both the donors and the recipients should be made equally aware of two things:

  1. That this wealth transfer has been taking place for years, and
  2. Whose generosity was involved

You won’t be told any of the above by the BBC

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Please, please, donate whatever you can afford today. Every £5, £10, or £50 makes a difference, and if you can afford more we would be very grateful. No limos, lunch bills, or plush London offices – it all goes to funding our research, publishing, media campaigns, and lobbying MPs.

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[ Sources: EU Commission ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Wed 21 Jul 2021

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