Coronavirus may be European Commission’s ‘undoing’ – Warning as bloc ‘centralise power’

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This week, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined her proposal for an enlarged EU budget with an additional €750 billion euro recovery fund. Her choice was between leaving countries behind or taking a “bold new step together”.

As the deadly virus continues to ravage and destroy the global economy, Europe is scrambling towards a more centralised integrated EU, a research officer has claimed.

But Eoin Drea, senior research officer at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, believes it is also “setting the bloc up for failure”.

In a comment piece for Politico, Mr Drea said: “On paper, allowing the Commission to borrow on behalf of all EU countries will help bridge the widening rift between Southern and Northern Europe.

“An expanded budget that supports digital and green policy objectives will better prepare economies for the post-virus world.

“In practice, however, the Commission has doubled down on measures that would further centralise power in Brussels.”

Mr Drea went on to explain the proposals are a “greatest hits of every big idea the EU has failed to deliver”.

He claimed: “The specific proposals to create a common consolidated tax base are the prelude to corporate tax harmonisation across Europe.

“The implications for states as diverse as Ireland, the Netherlands, Estonia and Bulgaria are obvious.

“Tax harmonisation is a competition killer designed with the aim of making the EU’s periphery part of the wider Franco-German economic orbit.

“The countries with some of the highest corporation tax rates in Europe are making sure smaller, more nimble competitors follow suit.”

Mr Drea argued to “ensure that competition rules remain fit for today’s world” is suggesting European ‘champions’ continue to compete against the US and China.

However, he believes it is “incredibly dangerous” and criticised the idea of a “shared debt uniting the EU”.

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Mr Drea said: “As to shared debt uniting the EU, the harsh reality is that the European Council summit on June 19 will be the beginning of countless meetings of national leaders riven by disputes about allocations, oversights, value for money and implicit (or explicit) conditionality.

“Rather than the current scatter-gun approach, Brussels should be concentrating on a much smaller number of initiatives that would immediately strengthen political and public support for the EU.

“Reforming the eurozone (completely ignored in the Commission’s proposals, apart from some window dressing), reducing the burden of EU regulation for small businesses and sending sources to a coherent external border protection force would do more to strengthen Italy’s long-term economic performance than making it buy one million electronic Volkswagens.”

In his last scathing words, Mr Drea attacked the EU and said there needs to be a “smarter, smaller, more competitive” EU but they are getting the “exact opposite”.

He said: “The EU has succumbed to the panic of the coronavirus, to the inherent disarray of lockdowns and soaring unemployment.

“It has locked itself in to unattainable policy initiatives as drivers of economic recovery.”

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union was criticised by Spanish and Italian politicians for failing to react to the crisis quickly enough.

As the virus swept across the continent, countries shut their borders to try to limit the spread of the deadly contagion.

European member states are set to try to agree on a recovery plan to deal with the economic fallout of the virus after the shutdown.

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