20 years ago the EU let in 10 poor countries and it cost the British people a fortune

Now the EU is planning to let in 10 more - the UK has dodged a bullet thanks to Brexit

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2024

EU celebrates 20 years expansion - we reveal the costs the UK taxpayer will now avoid

On 01 May 2004 20 years ago, the EU expanded to include 10 more countries and it is celebrating. Every one of these countries immediately became net beneficiaries of EU funds provided by the British taxpayer. The UK was always a net payer – paying in more to the EU than it received.

A Brexit Facts4EU.Org Series

Part I – EU celebrates 20 years of the British paying for its expansion (This report)
Part II - Which countries pay for the EU and which take?
Part III – The 10 new EU candidate countries lining up for the billions

Now the EU plans to take in 10 more more countries which are all relatively poor and which will all be subsidised out of the EU budget, paid for by EU citizens. Thanks to Brexit the British taxpayer will no longer be liable for the billions this will cost every year for many years.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

1. EU enlargement 2004

  • Cyprus
  • Czechia
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

2. EU enlargement 2007

  • Bulgaria
  • Romania

3. EU enlargement 2013

  • Croatia

Here is what the EU Commission said on 01 May 2024:

“From the Polish electronics business to the German car manufacturing sector, industry has grown due to the economies of scale offered by an enlarged single market.”

“Over the past 20 years, our investments in highways, pipelines, public transport, connectivity, data centres and cross-border infrastructure have brought Europeans closer together and made the European Union a better place to live and work.”

- EU Commission, May 2024

Since 2004 three more countries joined: Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. The 13 countries which joined the EU have enjoyed huge benefits to their infrastructure which would be the envy of most British citizens. People living in these new EU countries have seen a remarkable economic growth. According to the EU Commission, six million jobs were created in the 10 new member countries which joined in 2004.

How did the poor British citizen benefit financially?

The answer is that British citizens simply didn’t benefit at all. All the citizens of the 10 new EU members who joined 20 years ago did - and the German and French manufacturing industries most certainly did.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org published an example of the British taxpayers’ largesse.

Want to see your spanking new underground terminus? No problem, just go to Poland

The following comes from a report we published shortly after the UK left the EU, but the expenditure was all initiated while the UK was making net contributions to the EU and any residual costs will continue to be passed on to the UK, under Theresa May’s disastrous ‘Divorce Bill’ settlement.

This spending came from two sources :-

  • The EU’s Regional Development Fund (ERDF): €1,652,765,051
  • The EU’s European Social Fund (ESF): €634,615,728
  • Total : €2,287,380,779

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

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 has spent 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' financed a new underground system for Poland’s third city, Łódź, to make life easier for Polish commuters. In reality this sort of funding would not have been possible without the UK taxpayer.

Who got the most, and who paid for it?

The EU makes it very difficult to calculate just how much each member country has received over the years, compared to what it has paid in. Brexit Facts4EU.Org has accessed the detailed data for 2022 (the latest available) and in Part II we will reveal how much each member country gained or lost.

This is highly relevant to UK readers because the UK was always the second-largest net contributor to the EU, paying in far more than it got out.

There are 10 more EU candidate countries, each of which will receive more than they pay in

In Part III we go on to reveal the small size of the economies of the 10 new EU candidate countries. All of these countries will receive massive funds from the EU budget, just as those did which joined in 2004 and subsequently. The new candidate countries are already receiving what is known as ‘Pre-Accession Funding’.

When the UK was still a member of the EU it would have been the second-largest contributor into these funds after Germany.


There will of course be those who say "Who cares? We've left." The reality is that the sheer extent of the wealth transference from rich countries like the UK to poorer countries who joined the EU is barely reported and the British public is for the most part blissfully unaware.

This new short series will reveal the reality.

We must get reports like this out there

Reports like the one above take far longer to research, write and produce than many people realise. If they were easy, readers would see other organisations also producing these daily. However, there’s little point in the Facts4EU.Org team working long hours, seven days-a-week, if we lack the resources to promote them effectively – to the public, to MPs, and to the media. This is where you come in, dear reader.

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

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, xx May 2024

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