Is Luxembourg the biggest beneficiary of the EU?

26 September 2019
What was claimed

Luxembourg benefits the most from being in the EU, getting back 3,304% of what it pays in.

Our verdict

Incorrect. The amount that Luxembourg received in EU spending in 2018 was roughly 105% of what it paid in to the EU budget. 16 other EU countries received a higher level of spending—relative to what they paid in—than Luxembourg.

Last week, Boris Johnson did not attend a planned press conference with the Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel—with Mr Bettel instead undertaking the press conference alone.

Mr Johnson reportedly decided to pull out due to a loud group of anti-Brexit protestors close by.

In the aftermath, a number of Facebook posts have shared an image claiming to show that Luxembourg benefits the most from being in the EU, getting back 3,304% of what it pays into the EU by 2022. A couple of the posts explicitly linked it to the Bettel incident.

The posts are incorrect. We’ve checked a number of these issues before.

A key problem was that the figures for the EU budget from 2021 onwards haven’t been released yet, so we can’t know what individual countries will pay in and get back. The posts use data which they say is from 2018 to try and estimate what these figures will be.

There are also separate problems with the specific claim that Luxembourg gets back 3,304% of what it pays in as an EU member. The amount that Luxembourg received in EU spending in 2018 was roughly 105% of what it paid in to the EU budget (this can also be expressed as getting back 5% more than it paid in). In that year, 16 other EU countries received more money—relative to what they paid in—than Luxembourg.

The EU budget also spent around €1.6 billion on administration in Luxembourg in 2018. This covers things like EU staff salaries and building costs related to EU institutions within Luxembourg—like the Court of Justice of the European Union. This money is not counted as spending on Luxembourg itself. However, even if it was counted as spending on Luxembourg, the country would get around 460% more than it paid in—still nowhere near 3,304%.

Luxembourg apart, the order in which countries appear in the post, in terms of how much they pay into the EU and get back, is fairly accurate.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as mixture because, while the overall order of countries shown in the post is fairly accurate, the figure for Luxembourg is inaccurate.

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