This was called to my attention by Ian Milne, quondam editor of Eurofacts, and the man who probably knows more than anybody about the fiscal side of our membership of the EU. When I say anybody, I include all politicians and journalists.
The figures are on pp 130 -132 of the 2009 Pink Book. "These figures," - says Ian - "include payments & receipts to & from not just the EU Budget, by & to HM Treasury, but other payments/receipts by other UK ministries (e.g. DIFID) & by private-sector or quasi private-sector bodies."
So here they are for the year 2008:
In £ billion:
We paid gross: 16.4
We received back: 9.8
Our Net contribution: 6.6
In my opinion we should not be looking at net contribution but at gross, anyway. After all, when we pay our taxes we do not say "yes, I paid this much but this much was spent on the NHS or whatever so I need to reckon net amounts only".
As Ian also helpfully reminds us, £16.4 billion divided by 365 means that we pay £45.25 million every day. (To be fair, 2008 was a Leap Year but to be also fair, the figures for 2009 and 2010 will be higher.)