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A survey carried out in France, Italy and Germany found a strong majority of respondents were critical about the European Union’s approach to the crisis. It also revealed citizens believed the pandemic has “weakened” the arguments in favour of the bloc. Respondents disregarded the EU’s cherished free movement and said the coronavirus outbreak has shown that national borders are crucial for the security of a country.
The survey, carried out by Redfield and Wilton Strategies on behalf of Euronews, found that 70 percent of Italians, 60 percent of Germans and 59 percent of French citizens think the EU has not helped their country during the crisis.
On the questions of the importance of national borders, 61 percent of Germans, 66 percent of Italians and 69 percent of people in France said they “agreed or strongly agreed” with the statement.
And 61 percent of respondents in Italy, 47 percent in France and 40 percent in Germany said the pandemic had “weakened” arguments in favour of the political project.
On the day Ursula von der Leyen announced her Brussels-driven rescue fund, less than 20 percent of respondents in the three countries said coronavirus had “strengthened” the bloc’s purpose.
The online survey was carried out between May 22-25 with a sample of eligible voters in France, 1,500 in Italy and 1,500 in Germany.
Earlier today, the European Commission set out plans for a €750 billion bailout fund that involves eurocrats borrowing vast sums on cash on international markets.
In a new tax and spend, Mrs von der Leyen, the Commission president, set out a new power grab that would turn the Brussels-based executive into a de facto EU finance ministry.
Her blueprint is likely to cause immense friction with member states wanting to retain national tax sovereignty.
Leaders will discuss the recovery fund at a European summit on June 19, likely to be a frantic affair.
The plans, which are based on a Franco-German proposal put forward by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, require the unanimous support of all 27 EU capitals before they can be implemented.
The Dutch, Austrian, Danish and Swedish governments have all voiced their opposition for the creation of the creation of mutualised EU debt.
A joint diplomatic paper put forward by the so-called “Frugal Four” said the four countries “cannot agree” to any “instruments or measures leading to debt mutualisation nor significant increases in the EU budget”.
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The fiscally conservative member states want grants issued to Spain and Italy to be linked to the introduction of austerity politics.
A Dutch diplomat said: “Our position is well known: The starting point is that the Netherlands is willing to help and wants to cooperate on a European level to fight the crisis. We want to do this in a way that strengthens member states and the EU as a whole.”
“The positions are far apart and this is a unanimity file; so negotiations will take time. It’s difficult to imagine this proposal will be the end state of those negotiations,” they added.
According to internal documents, seen by Express.co.uk, Italy is in line for grants worth almost €82 billion, Spain would receive some €77 billion and France around €38 billion.
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This would leave poorer EU countries who have avoided the worst of the pandemic will be left to shoulder the financial burden of some of the bloc’s biggest economies.
The likes of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic would feel the pinch as a result.
Hungarian MEP Eniko Gyori said the plan would lead to a “moral hazard” by encouraging countries to rack up huge bills.
She said: “It cannot happen that poorer member states finance the wealthier ones.”
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