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Lawyers In For Britain: The UK and the EU: Benefits, misconceptions and alternatives banner

The EU bureaucracy is relatively small given the overall size of the EU economy and its population of over 500 million people.

  • The EU institutions employ 55,000 persons (less than 0.05% of the EU population). This relatively small number of European civil servants carries out a wide range of work, managing the various internal policies of the EU and working alongside Member States on international issues such as trade and diplomacy.
  • By way of comparison, the Department for Work and Pensions alone employs over 91,000 personnel[1] and the UK Government’s central civil service has over 400,000 employees.
  • The total administration costs for the EU institutions amounted to just 6% of the EU’s budget in 2015.[2]
  • As with any organisation, there is scope to improve, and the EU institutions are actively working to do this. For example, the EU currently has 34 decentralized agencies (by comparison, the UK has over 350 non-governmental agencies and public bodies[3]) and is working on making them more efficient by coordinating work, removing redundant functions, and sharing common resources and know-how.[4]
  • The European Commission has also pledged to simplify internal administration and remove unnecessary bureaucracy. As a result it has adopted a policy of benchmarking any proposed work or initiatives to ensure that they would result in a tangible benefit to EU citizens and companies.[5]


  1. Based on the Office for National Statistics’ Public Sector Employment data –
  3. The UK Government maintains a list of these agencies –
  4. European Commission, Report from the Commission: Progress report on the implementation of the Common Approach on EU decentralised agencies, COM(2015) 179 final, April 2015 –
  5. European Commission, Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the Court of Auditors: Synthesis of the Commission’s management achievements in 2014, COM(2015) 279 final, June 2015 –