UK still has ‘lots of issues’ with EU says Penny Mourdant
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The UK is currently embroiled with the EU in what has been dubbed the “sausage war”. It comes after Britain moved to resolve the bitter feud over the sale of sausages in Northern Ireland. Lord David Frost has written to Brussels with an official request to extend the grace period to the end of September.
Under the Brexit deal, the EU allowed mandatory checks on fresh food produced in Great Britain and shipped to Northern Ireland to be phased in over six months.
But an outright ban on chilled meats, which the UK has called “bonkers”, was due to come into effect at the end of June.
Over the weekend, Brussels signalled that it might welcome a delay after Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president, told an audience in Bruges that he was “convinced there is still a window for productive political dialogue” before the ban on chilled meats comes into effect.
The sausage war is just one in a string of complications that have arisen between the UK and EU since Brexit.
One, to the detriment of the EU, was explored in 2019 after the Centre for European Reform (CER) published a research paper looking at the implications of Brexit on Europe.
One of its focuses was on Europe’s eurozone system, and whether countries would be able to accelerate the integration process nations like France and Germany are keen on doing.
This would see more EU states becoming more closely financially entwined, the eurozone system becoming further entrenched on the continent and countries therefore growing closer to the bloc.
However, the paper stated: “Though Brexit gives the eurozone more power to drive economic and financial policy for the EU as a whole, divisions within the eurozone make rapid integration very unlikely, at least in the near term.”
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It will have been a bitter blow to the likes of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who have both moved to bolster the eurozone system which came into existence in 1999.
At the time of writing, Mr Macron had been unable to persuade Mrs Merkel to accept his ideas for eurozone reform, although the German Chancellor was keen on reform as a means of strengthening the zone.
Germany and the so-called frugal northern European nations have long opposed French proposals to reform the eurozone budget so as to stabilise members’ economies in a crisis.
They have instead shifted the focus onto using a eurozone budget to promote competitiveness through investment.
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Ultimately, the report stated: “There is no sign of the kind of political dialogue between governments and citizens in the eurozone that might lead to popular backing for greater integration.”
Things were radically uprooted when the coronavirus pandemic set in.
The health crisis saw the EU agree to a bloc-wide recovery package.
It meant that for the first time in history, member states had shared debt.
Many countries in Europe have thus become more integrated.
The frugal states were wholly opposed to the idea of giving grants to the southern European states hardest hit by the pandemic.
Instead, they wanted more loans to be issued.
Many were also uncertain given that the EU’s predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), was founded on the principle of financial restraint, with shared debt against the rules.
France and Germany hailed the package as a breakthrough in the EU’s history.
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