Heads of state were ferried out of Brussels on Friday evening after failing to reach a breakthrough on the seven-year budget at a two-day summit, with one slamming the Brussels chief for the “unacceptable” proposal. European Council leader Charles Michel had hoped to win over the 27 leaders with his package – but it backfired with a standoff between “frugal” member states and poorer countries. Express.co.uk weighed in on the dispute, with thousands responding to a poll which asked, “Do you think the EU will collapse without UK budget contributions?”
Seventy-eight percent (5,114) respondents said “yes” while just 19 percent (1,231) said “no”.
Only three percent (239) of readers said they didn’t know.
A total of 6,584 people took part in the poll between 10.15am and 8pm on Friday, February 21.
Some readers were quick to lay bare their true feelings towards the EU, with many saying the budget row was just one factor which would contribute to the bloc’s inevitable downfall.
One reader said: “Remoaners used to say the EU would be just fine without UK budget contributions, they would hardly notice our missing payments.
“We Brexiteers said they would end up fighting like rats in sacks, the rich countries refusing to pay more, and the poor countries refusing any cuts to their handouts.
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“And so the Brexiteers were right again.”
Another said: “I think we are now watching the beginning of the end of the EU, let’s hope it’s a slow excruciating implosion.
“We should cause the maximum amount of damage while this is going on. Payback is going to be sweet and hilariously amusing.”
And a third summed up the situation by simply saying: “I think it will collapse regardless.”
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And yet another said once the UK “gets on our feet” after the Brexit transition period has ended and the economy thrives it would inspire member states to follow suit.
“The EU’s days are numbered,” they said.
However, one reader said while they did not expect Brexit to “finish off the EU” it would inevitably “increase tensions and resentment witting the EU”.
They added: “This coupled with the ongoing euro crisis will be major contributors to its downfall. It’s only a matter of time.”
Ireland’s leader was among a chorus of voices in Brussels today hitting out at Mr Michel’s proposal.
Leo Varadkar said what Mr Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen brought to the table was not good enough.
The Taoiseach said: “I met with President Michel and President von der Leyen last night and the proposal on the table is one we can’t accept.
“Essentially it means Ireland will contribute much more to the EU budget but will actually receive less back in terms of payments to Irish farmers and also funds for regional development and social development.”
The so-called “Frugal Four” of Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, and a few others, believe the EU’s 2021-2027 budget, which is meant to fund ambitious climate change and digital economy policies, should amount to 1 percent of the 27-nation trading bloc’s gross national income.
On the other hand, many of the poorer member states and the European Parliament wanted to stick with a bigger budget of 1.3 percent.
“I can understand that when you’re a prime minister in a country that has poor regions, infrastructures, I can understand that… but when it comes to the percentage, I stand firm,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands is willing to pay more into the next EU budget but the figures must take into account the Brexit hole.
He said: “We are willing to pay more because we are accepting that the budget will go up with economic growth and inflation.”
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