EU: Yanis Varoufakis hits out at 'economic imbalances'
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The bloc today threatened to “suspend” large parts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement if the UK attempts to undercut EU businesses. Michel Barnier, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, said the bloc could move to carry out such actions and strip Britain of its zero-tariff and zero-quota deal with the bloc should it fail to meet certain standards. It comes as Brussels attempts to rebuild the eurozone 27 member-state economy following financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, after much deliberation, the bloc approved the coronavirus recovery fund that will be the first stepping stone in a long road to regaining the eurozone’s momentum on the world stage.
It is the first time that the EU as a single group took on collective debt, something that the European Economic Community (EEC) – the EU’s predecessor – agreed not to do.
For German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, both of whom spearheaded the recovery fund plans, it marks a move towards their goal of closer economic integration across the bloc.
However, many have noted that the closer integration might well translate to a harder to leave EU, and potential economic hardship for citizens who live in member states.
Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Minister of Finance, has for years spoken out against what he calls the “oligarchies” and “glorified cartels” of the eurozone and EU economy.
In 2018, during an Oxford Union address, Mr Varoufakis argued that if and when the eurozone becomes stronger, it will be to the detriment of Europe’s ordinary people, describing this model as in the long-run unsustainable.
Talking about how the EU could be at risk of collapsing as a result of huge euro surpluses in Germany, he said: “The nearer we’re getting to any potential fragmentation of the euro, the higher the value of the German euro, of euros in Germany.
“Of course, what will happen is, euros will be shifted from Italian bank accounts to German bank accounts, which is already happening – we have about €200billion in the last 18 months that has shifted from Italian bank accounts to German bank accounts.
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“This is because of the risk of keeping your euros in a country that after the breakup of the eurozone, will see its currency redenominated downwards, not upwards.
“In the 1950s, there were magnificent Jaguar cars that were extremely strong cars.
“But if you had an accident in one of them you ended up dead, the car didn’t bend much, it didn’t crumble, it would be intact but you would be dead – and that’s the euro.
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“The stronger it is, the weaker the population and labour living under it is, and that’s the way it has been designed.”
Earlier this month Brussels faced huge backlash after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to block the UK’s coronavirus vaccine supplies from leaving the continent.
The European Parliament also passed legislation that triggered Article 16 of the Brexit deal, effectively erecting a hard border on the island of Ireland, furthering an already fragile political situation in the Irish Sea.
It came as the bloc fell considerably behind the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme, which has now inoculated 15 million of its citizens, compared to the entire continent’s 18 and a half million first and second doses.
Frustration came after the Oxford-based AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company – which the UK and EU had already bought doses from – distributed vaccines from its Netherlands and Belgium production facilities, as neighbouring EU countries were forced to idly watch, a result of “Brussels bureaucracy”, according to several reports.
Many pointed towards the potential German Chancellor hopeful, Markus Söder, as the EU’s real reason for attempting to thwart the UK’s programme.
Last month, he voiced concerns that the bloc would fall behind the UK should its vaccination programme continue to falter.
He said: “The time factor is crucial: If Israel, the US or the UK are far ahead of us in vaccination, they will also benefit economically.”
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