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The European Union earlier this month agreed with great difficulty to pool efforts to help the worst-stricken member states recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Brussels had the EU27 come together on a €750million (£675million) programme of grants and loans in a bid to restart the European economy. But eurosceptic Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers forecast the agreement is likely to foment widespread “resentment” in both countries paying out the most of the contributions and those receiving the biggest slice of the funds.
Speaking to Express.co.uk shortly after the agreement was reached, Mr Weimers said: “You now have taxpayers in countries like Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark very frustrated about the fact they will now be bound until 2058 to pay grants to European economies where the politicians have not been responsible in terms of debt and in terms of economic management.
“You will have that frustration on the taxpayers’ side but you will also see frustration on the receiving end because what we saw with regard to the management of Greece during the eurocrisis was massive resentment against Brussels, against Germany for their demands from Greece at the time.
“And when we create a grant scheme where Brussels will put the rules on the management of southern European, central and easter European economies, the citizens of those countries will also be resentful because they will feel like democracy has been hijacked.”
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Mr Weimers continued: “Both the frugals and the recipients will, in the end, be resentful.
“That is my prediction and this is a very dangerous scheme.
“I think when the history books are written, overreach will be the defining term of what we’re seeing right now.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the agreement on the recovery fund as historic and insisted the investment will pay for itself in the long run.
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President von der Leyen claimed the lack of a rescue package would cause “skyrocketing unemployment and mainly also youth unemployment, the next lost generation, we would see masses of companies going bust.”
She said: “We would see an increase of pressure on public finances and security systems and an even deeper crisis, and a sluggish recovery.
“Therefore the investment now in a strong and fast recovery with a modernised single market is in our common interest.”
Mrs von der Leyen added: “Our experience from the last economic and financial crisis was that in those regions where there was immediately a massive public investment in the crisis, those regions recovered better and faster and stronger.”
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But within two weeks of reaching an agreement, the EU may soon be asked to take a stand yet again as the number of coronavirus cases across the continent surge once more.
Sky News Brussels correspondent Adam Parsons said: “I think we are seeing cracks in the unity of the European Union response.
“Different quarantine regulations, different social distancing rules across Europe.
“I think the EU as a whole hoped that it would get more breathing space and it’s now nervously looking at some of these rises and asking can they be managed by local restrictions, by local lockdowns?
“Or are we, and nobody wants this, heading back to a question where a full national lockdown may be implemented in some or potentially all countries across a huge chunk of the EU?”
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