There have been a number of statements lately by eurosceptic groups claiming that the EU membership costs European citizens too much. They consider that the costs have grown because of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania and there could be a better use of this money.
I am one who claims that the accession of Bulgaria and of Romania is a very good deal for the current 25 members. The EU will enlarge with a nice country such as mine for as little as two euro per capita of the present member states per year. It’s the price of one cup of coffee served on a terrace in Berlin or in a churreria in Madrid. Over one whole year, it’s nothing. I wish Europe had paid more, but that’s it.
I recently wrote an article in Standard, the newspaper where I work, where I explained how I had reached these calculations. The funds allocated for Bulgaria in the EU budget for 2007-1013 are 11.113 billion euro. This makes 1.58 billion euro a year. The whole budget of the EU for the same period is 862.4 billion euro, meaning that the cost of Bulgaria’s accession in this budget is 1.28 per cent. The population of the 25 present members is 460 million people. Therefore per capita the accession of Bulgaria costs 3.43 euro a year. But that’s not the net price, since Bulgaria also pays its contribution to the budget. So the net price is indeed very close to two euro, keep the change, if any.
But participation in the EU is not only about paying. As members of the EU we have the right to decide together. That is, to participate in the decision-making, so we are allotted a number of votes for qualified majority vote. Also a number of members in the European Parliament and in other institutions. How do they evaluate our weight? The GDP of Bulgaria calculated taking in account the purchasing power is about 50 billion euro, if we can believe the CIA fact book. I personally like the CIA figures because they are higher than the official number of about 20 billion euro, where purchasing power is not taken into account. Again the CIA gives a 200 billion euro estimation for the GDP of Austria. Bulgaria and Austria, having roughly the same population, are given in the EU the same number of votes and the same number of MPs. The Alpine country is obviously richer, but we are equal. So we too have a good deal, after all.
Head of Bulgaria in EU Press Centre