The growing hidden costs of EU membership

By April 5, 2019February 18th, 2021No Comments


IMPORTANT: This is in addition to the UK’s annual ‘net contribution’ payments

UK is expected to continue paying into ‘off-the-books’ EU fund for 10 years after Brexit


Please remember that the UK is the second-largest donor of foreign aid in the World, after the USA. No-one can say that the UK isn’t generous. However the information that follows is about a fund administered by the EU Commission, using UK money.

Yesterday the EU committed an extra €115 million for ‘job creation and migrant protection’ in the Sahel region of Africa.

Today we thought it might be a good time to remind Remain MPs about the EU’s €30 BILLION ‘off-the-books’ fund, to which the UK taxpayer contributes, but which is never included in official figures for the UK’s annual net contribution to the EU.


The massive ‘European Development Fund’ (EDF)

This ‘off-the-books’ fund stands at €30.5bn (and growing)

It is NOT included when the BBC talks about the UK’s net contributions

The UK pays almost 15% of it (£3.8 billion pounds since 2014)

As part of May’s Brexit deal the UK will still be paying into this fund for 10 years after Brexit

It’s called the ‘European Development Fund’ or EDF

It has nothing to do with developing Europe

It’s spent outside the EU, mainly to 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

We must stress again that this fund is NOT included when people talk about the UK’s annual EU contributions. This is extra spending as a result of the UK’s membership of the EU, but it’s never mentioned. There are other such funds but here we focus exclusively on the EDF.

The EU is expecting the UK to pay for this – and continue paying – as part of the ‘financial settlement’ that has been agreed by Theresa May.

This will mean the UK paying billions to the EU until 2030 – and this money is in addition to the UK’s annual contributions to the EU’s main budget. Bizarrely there are no time limits for implementing projects, which can take ‘more than 10 years’.

What is the European Development Fund?

Well, it’s not about developing Europe. This is what the EU Commission say:

“The European Development Fund (EDF) is the EU’s main instrument for providing development aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and to overseas countries and territories (OCTs).

“The EDF funds cooperation activities in the fields of economic development, social and human development as well as regional cooperation and integration.

“It is financed by direct contributions from EU Member States according to a contribution key and is covered by its own financial rules.

“The 11th EDF was created by an intergovernmental agreement signed in June 2013 – as it is not part of the EU Budget – and entered into force on the 1st March 2015, after ratification by all Member States.”

Where does the €30 billion go?

83% of the EDF’s expenditure went to African countries, according to the last breakdown we researched. The balance went to what are called OCTs – the overseas territories of France, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org looked at one report about the EDF’s contribution to the road network in Sub-Saharan Africa, a sector for which total EDF commitments amounted to almost €7.4 billion over the 1995-2011 period.

We are not road-building experts but given the very low costs in that region, we assume that €7.4 billion euros was enough to tarmac over much of the region.

How big is this fund and how fast is it growing?

This fund has grown rapidly over the years. The latest ‘tranche’ is over twice that in 2007.

Ejecting MPs and fast-forwarding to Brexit

How much does the UK pay?

This fund is separate from the normal annual EU budget and the proportions borne by each member state are different. In the case of the EDF the UK pays a disproportionately high 14.8% of the EU total.

This additional EU Fund cost the UK £1/2 billion in 2016 alone. [Source: UK DFID Dept]

Who checks where this money is going?

Each year the European Court of Auditors reviews the performance of the EDF. In the case of the EU’s €7.4 billion Sub-Saharan road building project, the ECA described the results only as “partially effective”.

The ECA samples the hundreds of projects financed by the EDF each year and draws conclusions on how well the money is being spent. In its report the ECA declared that:

“27% of EDF expenditure transactions were affected by a material level of error.”

In 46% of the errors, expenditure either wasn’t eligible under the Fund or it hadn’t even been incurred.

It’s important to note that whilst the EDF is funded by direct contributions from EU Member States such as the UK, these funds are managed by the EU Commission.


We’re not sure about you, dear reader, but from where we sit €30.5 billion is quite a lot of money. It would certainly pay for a few weekly trips to the supermarket.

Spent in Africa, this represents an even greater amount, of course.

The key questions are for Remain MPs

Did you even know of the existence of this massive EU fund?

Did you know that it’s not included in the official EU budget?

Did you know that British taxpayers’ money is one of the main sources for this EU ‘off-budget’ spending?

And despite the billions being spent, are you happy that you don’t even get to have a ‘meaningful vote’ on it?

Secondary questions to the BBC

Do you not think that this is important?

You have massive resources, we have almost none – why do you never report these things?

The UK is the second-most generous donor on the planet when it comes to foreign aid, after the USA.

Why on earth do we need to send money to the EU, on top of our massive annual contributions, for it to waste on projects which cannot be voted on by MPs?

And why isn’t the British public told about these things?

[Sources : EU Commission | UK Government: Dept For International Development (DFID) | EU Court of Auditors | EU law database | EU Parliament | Cabinet Office | European Scrutiny Committee 2010 | ECDPM | OECD | And others]

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Fri 05 April 2019