EU worst Brexit fears come true as Brussels warned ‘lasting scars’ to spark more rebellion

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European Union experts expressed fears the Brexit vote would result in further internal division once the UK stopped playing the role of moderator between the members states and Brussels. The fierce opposition of some members to the coronavirus rescue package the European Commission proposed to help ailing countries foreshadows further splintering to come, according to Erik Kirschbaum. Asked whether the package would leave some “lasting scars” on the union, the EU affairs expert told DW News: “Absolutely.

“It’s not just north-south now but east-west. We saw small groups of Eastern European countries able to blackmail their interests. We saw the four frugals being able to force their interest through.

“The EU used to be France and Germany kind of leading the way, now in the wake of Britain leaving, smaller countries are coming up with their special interests.

“It’s a scary moment when you think where the world is going with China, the United States – these big power blocs – and the EU in the middle with 27 countries haggling over small little details.

“Is the EU going to be able to compete with these big countries in the future?”

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Mr Kirschbaum welcomed the agreement Brussels secured but branded the five-day-long crisis talks a “farce”, insisting the bloc had revealed the deep cracks forming between member states.

After months of debate and a summit on the brink of becoming the longest-ever in the history of the EU, member states agreed to a €750 billion (£678 billion) rescue programme to help the worst-affected countried recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic.

He continued: “The mutualisation of debt for the first time is a big, big step. It’s something that’s been long overdue, the EU could have done this a decade ago and the eurozone might not have been as severe as it was.

“But on the other hand, five days and five nights of negotiations for a deal that could have been done in a day is a bit of a farce.

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“It just shows that the EU is far from united. The problem facing the EU and facing the world…it’s not making them very fit for the future when they take five days to make a decision like this one.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the agreement as “historic” as did French President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leading proponents of the deal.

But new analysis of the package suggested Brussels had to make at least three major concessions which cast doubt on the future of the union.

A key compromise was the effective abolition of rule of law within the bloc. Several MEPs had accused Brussels of planning to break its own treaties to secure an agreement.


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The measure is expected to favour Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland that for years have locked horns with Brussels over national law.

And fiscally conservative countries like the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark – a group informally known as the Frugal Four – snatched increased rebate payments from the bloc.

Economic analysis website Eurointelligence said in their review of the deal: “The real story of EU’s deal is not the €390billion (£352billion) in grants, but the price the EU had to pay to get there.

“The EU made three big sacrifices. The rule of law linkage to the budget is now effectively gone.

“The system of unfair rebates is not only maintained but enlarged: like Margaret Thatcher before, the frugal’s got their money back.

“Most important for us is the annihilation of the funds earmarked for various categories of investment, notably the climate change transition which is down from €30billion (£27billion) to €10billion (£9billion), and a 50 percent cut in the funds earmarked for research. Several other categories of investments were also culled.”

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