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And Derk Jan Eppink, from the Netherlands, warned of simmering resentment in his own country, with a polls indicating widespread opposition to the proposals, which would see two-thirds of the cash allocated in non-repayable grants, triggering fears of huge public spending in southern countries such as Spain and Italy. A member of the European Parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists Group, Mr Eppink was speaking before leaders of the EU27 gathered for the crunch two-day meeting.
The problem of the eurozone is the euro itself
Derk Jan Eppink
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already conceded there is no certainty a deal on the proposals will be struck, something which Mr Eppink likewise believes is unlikely.
He believes the issue is symptomatic of deep divisions within both the EU itself, and the eurozone, consisting of the 19 EU member states which have adopted the euro as a common currency.
Mr Eppink told Express.co.uk: “The problem of the eurozone is the euro itself.
“Its inception was based on a naive, idealistic view on how a monetary union could spill over to a political federalised union. Now we see the opposite has happened.
“The eurozone has become ‘fightingzone’ where some member states constantly need to pay for the debts of other countries.
“In the meantime, incentives for reforms are ignored.”
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Mr Eppink, whose country is one of the so-called “frugal four” along with Austria, Sweden and Denmark, warned: “I am afraid the north/south divide will only increase.
“For example, during the 2008 financial crisis and the years that followed, the Dutch implemented strict austerity measures in order to save for a rainy day.
“The Netherlands is now facing its own problems.
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“In the meantime the Dutch see the plans of the Spanish government to come up with a form of universal basic income, and that the private debt of Italians is much lower than of the average Dutch citizen.
“For Dutch taxpayers this is no longer acceptable.
“A recent poll showed two-third of Dutch voters are against the Commission’s Recovery package.”
The meeting, which is taking place in Brussels, is discussing a new EU budget of €1.074trillion alongside the coronavirus measures.
In his letter to leaders, sent on Wednesday, European Council President Charles Michel said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed many lives across Europe and dealt a serious blow to our economies and societies.
“It continues to impact our lives. All our efforts must focus on building a sustainable recovery.
“To that end, our meeting this week will be dedicated to the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Plan.
“Since our last summit in June, we have worked intensively with all of you and taken due note of your concerns.
“On that basis I have put forward a proposal to address the key difficulties and to build bridges between the different positions.
“Finding agreement will require hard work and political will on the part of all. Now is the time. A deal is essential.
“We will need to find workable solutions and come to an agreement, for the greater benefit of our citizens.”
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