Although the European Union is facing enormous political challenges, both internally and externally, Germany has shown little initiative in European politics in recent years. Proposed reforms of other member states, such as France, have been mostly opposed on the grounds that «the German taxpayers» must not be even further burdened. Behind this is the narrative that Germany, as the «paymaster of Europe», is disproportionately contributing to the common EU budget.
This study investigates the factual and popular basis of this narrative. Although Germany is the largest net contributor to the EU budget, it gains a considerable economic benefit from its EU membership as an export nation, particularly from the single market. Additionally, the «paymaster theory» disregards any political benefits of the European Community, such as stability, free movement and peace. Yet, this thesis seems to be partly responsible for the current attitude of restraint in Germany's EU policy.
This is the executive summary of our German e-paper. You can download the long version here.