The UK's payments to the European Union almost doubled in 2010, according to the latest data issued yesterday by the Office for National Statistics – soaring to £230 for every household in the country.Nice to have those official figures, though we know that HMG will not have a cost/benefit analysis of the country's membership of the EU because, as so many Ministers have pointed out over the years, the benefits are too obvious to need enumeration. Or words to that effect.
The ONS said yesterday that the net transfer of funds from Britain to EU institutions rose from £5.3bn in 2009 to £9.2bn in 2010, a jump of almost £4bn, or 74 per cent – enough to avoid the recent rise in national insurance or the new 50p rate of tax. The UK's contributions to the EU are at their highest level ever, and one of the very few areas of public spending set to increase in coming years despite the cutbacks being made across Britain.
One of those benefits is supposed to be trade though why we should lose that if we were outside the EU is a mystery nobody has been able to solve. On the other hand, if we were outside it we might decide not to trade with the rest of that shower anyway.
The ONS also revealed that the UK's trade deficit with the EU ballooned from £14.3bn to £46.6bn last year.Well, goodness me, those benefits are all too obvious, are they not?
The UK Exchequer is further exposed to rescuing distressed members of the eurozone via a small European Commission fund and Britain's contributions to the IMF, which is also helping fund eurozone bailouts. In all, this could amount to around £10bn in rescue loans.