In 2007, five countries - Germany, France, Italy, the UK, and Spain - contributed nearly half of the budget.
In fact, Germany alone - Europe's largest economy - paid more than the 19 lowest-paying member states combined.
Each country's payment is divided into three parts: a fixed percentage of gross national income (GNI), customs duties collected on behalf of the EU (known as "traditional own resources") and a percentage of VAT income.
The GNI-based contribution is the largest part of each country's payment and is set each year by the EU to balance the budget.
There is one other important part of the revenue calculations: the UK rebate, which returns to the UK two-thirds of its payments.
This rebate is paid for by the other 26 countries as a fixed amount of their gross national income.
Percentage of income
The size of member states' payments to the EU budget is broadly dependent on the size of their economy.
This is because the largest component of each country's contribution is a flat payment equivalent to a fixed proportion of its gross national income (GNI) - 0.59% in 2007.
There are some variations however. Thanks to its rebate, the UK pays a smaller proportion of its GNI than other countries.
Gross payments from each country differ, obviously, because of the large disparities in the size of the 27 countries' economies.
For example, Spain and Denmark both pay 0.96% of their gross national income into the budget, but as Spain has a larger economy its actual contribution amounts to 9.8bn euros, compared to Denmark's 2.2bn euros.
Greece pays the biggest proportion of its national income to the EU, but in terms of total payments it is eighth on the list.
Countries pay money into the EU budget and receive money back in the form of EU spending. It is therefore possible to work out which countries are net contributors and which net beneficiaries.
However, this calculation can be done in different ways.
Luxembourg and Belgium claim their figures are distorted by the number of EU institutions within their borders - 75% of the EU's administration costs being allocated to them.
Figures for Denmark and the Netherlands are affected by the high volume of trade passing through their ports, which inflates the contributions they make to the budget.
In an attempt to correct for these effects we have removed both administration costs and the customs duties collected by countries on behalf of the EU when calculating net contributions.
The European Commission estimates that there are more than 30 ways to calculate net figures for budget contributions.
Net by population
If each country's net contribution is divided by its population you get a figure for how much that country contributes or receives per citizen.
This graphic shows that though Germany is the biggest net contributor its large population means the tax burden for each citizen is lower than for Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.
Greece remains the largest beneficiary from the budget but the new member states in Central and Eastern Europe are all net recipients from the budget and the flow of funds to them is growing.
To an extent the EU's richer countries help fund the development of the poorer ones.
But there are other economic incentives for joining the European Union. Every member state benefits from the EU internal market and the EU's clout in world trade negotiations.
Arguably, the more developed countries benefit most, because they engage in the most trade.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.