Britain will finally leave the EU at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 - four-and-a-half years after more than 17.4 million pe
Britain will finally leave the EU at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 – four-and-a-half years after more than 17.4 million people voted to leave the bloc. The EU is in the midst of a turbulent year, with the bloc desperately battling to solve a number of huge and growing crises amid increasing mutiny from several member states. Brussels has come under attack from several member states over the bloc’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people throughout the continent.
The crisis has forced Governments to put their countries into lockdown, costing billions of pounds in lost trade and blowing massive holes in their respective economies.
Italy, which suffered more than most at the start of the outbreak, was left furious and accused the EU of offering little to no help in the country’s attempts to help recover and curb the spread of coronavirus.
EU member states continue to be at loggerheads over the €750billion ‘Coronavirus Recovery Fund’ proposal from the European Commission and the upcoming seven-year EU budget in terms of how they should be paid and how much countries should contribute.
During a speech to the Bundestag setting out Germany’s priorities for the rotating presidency of the EU, Angela Merkel said: “The pandemic shows us how vulnerable Europe is.”
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It is likely that many of the more conservative nations will increasingly realise that the EU is an enemy to their way of life, and wants to force them into a direction they don’t want to go in
Political experts have warned several EU member states could follow the UK out of the bloc as they become increasingly frustrated and fearful of the direction they are being taken in.
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, believes nations like the Visegrad Group, the cultural and political alliance consisting of the the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, could be among the first to make a move.
He told Express.co.uk: “It is likely that many of the more conservative nations will increasingly realise that the EU is an enemy to their way of life, and wants to force them into a direction they don’t want to go in.
“As soon as the economic advantage of membership decreases, I think nations like the Visegrad Group may look at leaving. An economic downturn is likely to increase euroscepticism across the whole continent also.”
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Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics and a University Teacher Fellow at De Montfort University, said other member states leaving depends on how the EU reacts to Brexit, but warned there are large parts of each member state population turning their backs on Brussels.
He told this website: “There is a possibility of other member states following the UK out of the EU, but it is conditional upon what happens to the UK after leaving.
“At one stage, France under a potential Marine Le Pen presidency was considered a likely candidate. However, she has moderated her tones so it is no longer likely.
“Another possible country is the Netherlands, especially as they are the largest contributor to the budget per head of population.
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“There is something of a disconnect appearing between parts of the population and the EU. One other country is the Czech Republic. This links in to immigration issues and the demands from the EU to take in more asylum seekers and refugees.
“Every member state has a section of the population which is dissatisfied with the EU and are willing to vote for parties which stand on an anti-EU platform, although not necessarily in general elections.”
Next month, Italian senator Gianluigi Paragone will launch a Italiexit-style party which will aim “to take Italy out of the EU and the eurozone”.
Mr Paragone is a fierce opponent of the EU and claims that the bloc is dominated by the “Franco-German axis in which banks and bureaucracy are favoured to the detriment of the people”.
Alex De Ruyter, Professor at Birmingham City University and Director of Centre for Brexit Studies, said: “Italy is one to watch. Although traditionally very pro-European, Italy has suffered through the eurozone crisis and many felt abandoned by their neighbours and the EU when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit.
“The EU and other members have since worked hard to try and show solidarity, the damage has been done.
“The country has more limited ability to respond to a downturn with fiscal policy and cannot devalue its currency due to being in the eurozone.
“As such, the fact that northern members refuse to countenance Eurobonds or “Coronabonds” has left Italy with few tools to deal with the current downturn.”
Earlier this month, Finnish MEP Laura Huhtasaari warned EU officials could see the “beginning of the end” of the bloc should the British Government succeed in making a success of Brexit.
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She claimed Brussels is aware the EU27 would be more prosperous outside of the union as she suggested the bloc is rushing to make it “more difficult” to leave like the UK.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Huhtasaari said: “Weber, who leads the European People’s Party, said that if the UK’s exit was to be successful and you would prosper and triumph…the EU is afraid of competition.
“It knows that the member states would do better without the federal state, they would do better as independent states in a free trade area.
“If Brexit is a success, it will be the beginning of the end of the EU.
“That’s why they are in a hurry, they really want to make it harder and harder to leave the EU, that’s why the corona package is being pushed very, very hard.”