EU unravelled after furious Wilders hit out at bloc for ‘making deal with UK hard’

Brexit 'is not the end' of break-up says Wilders in 2019

Policies within the UK and EU’s Brexit deal are slowly rolling-out following Britain’s departure from the customs union and single market nearly two weeks ago. Some “teething problems” have surfaced as the pair get to grips with their new relationship, having been wedded for 47 years. The biggest obstacle to date has seen retailers announce they will no longer deliver to the UK because of tax changes, which came into force on January 1 – with EU companies now required to pay VAT at the point of sale rather than at the point of importation.

It means those businesses sending goods to the UK will have to register for UK VAT and account for it to HMRC if the sale value is less than €150 (£135), ensuring goods from EU and non-EU countries are treated in the same way as UK businesses.

Other areas that have had a shaky start to the new year include residency rights on the continent, and the City of London as scores of businesses uprooted for the EU in the first days of trading in 2021.

The deal was the result of an eleventh-hour agreement on Christmas Eve after weeks of eyeballing.

And while critics have blasted Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his confusing “no non-tariff barriers” blunder, others have previously stated that the UK has had a hard time in securing a deal with the EU.

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Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, said the bloc made it as difficult as possible for Britain to secure any agreement.

Talking about the possibility of EU states now wanting to seek independence, he told CNBC in 2019: “It started long ago, Mrs May, as you remember, was against Brexit.

“So the negotiations started with a Prime Minister who herself was against Brexit, and I believe that’s a very bad start.

“On the other hand you had the European Union.

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“The EU really does not want one of the children to leave the house, they do not want that.

“They are afraid that, if they allow it, maybe another country would follow.

“Maybe Italy, Holland, France – whatever country that thinks, ‘Well, it might not be such a bad idea: the US saying we will have a lot of trade agreements.’

“I believe that from the European part – I’m sure Britain has so far made a mess of it – but also from the EU, there was no incentive to get a good deal.

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“They wanted to make an example to any country in Europe that if you try to leave, it will be a mess.

“So it’s a big disincentive to leave the EU.

“And indeed people are afraid, from my country to other countries, if you look at the polls of people who want to leave the EU, it’s at the lowest point in five years.”

Asked whether this spelled out the end of European countries wanting to escape the bloc, Mr Wilders said: “It’s not at all the end.

“With Brexit it might not be the most convincing argument at the moment.

“But I still believe you can work together, you can trade together, you can even have an internal market together.

“But you should not need a political union.”

Before the complexities of the Brexit process unfolded, many European countries had started to lean towards leaving the EU.

An early 2016 poll revealed that a majority of voters in ultra-developed Sweden wanted out of the EU if the UK voted for it.

Respondents to the University of Edinburgh survey in other countries found a similar sentiment: In Spain, 47 percent of those asked favoured a referendum, in Germany, 46 percent, in France, 53 percent – the highest yet.

Even in the midst of the affair, combined with the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, several top-tier EU countries appeared to want to change their relationship with the bloc.

In an August 2020 Euronews-Redfield and Wilton Strategies survey, Italy was the most likely out of the “Big Four” member states to consider exiting the EU if Brexit proves to be beneficial to the UK.

The data showed nearly half of Italians would be likely to support a Leave-style vote if Britain’s economy is in “good health” in the next five years.

France and Spain also both showed support for moderate changes with their dealings with the EU.

Unsurprisingly, Germany was the member state least likely of the four to be in favour of any exit or change, with the country privy to great influence over Brussels under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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