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Tensions within the bloc have remained high in recent months, with the European Commission – led by President Ursula von der Leyen – being highly criticised for a series of its decisions throughout the coronavirus pandemic. This led to a fierce divide within member states, which saw euroscepticism grow in some nations as they struggled to secure vaccines for their citizens. Many anti-EU figures cast looks over at the UK, which concluded its divorce from the bloc via Brexit and was able to source and deliver its own vaccination programme.
And earlier this month, Poland issued its own warning to EU leaders, claiming that it would “have to search for drastic solutions” if Brussels ordered it to bring in judicial reform, or face fines.
Ryszard Terlecki, a spokesman for Poland’s conservative nationalist governing party, Law and Justice, said that while his party wished to remain a member of the EU, Brussels “should be acceptable” of his nation’s own judicial processes.
He added: “If things go the way they are likely to go, we will have to search for drastic solutions.
“The British showed that the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy did not suit them and turned around and left.”
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The European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen
In the years since Brexit was voted for in 2016’s historic referendum on the UK’s status inside the EU, arguments for other nations to follow Britain out of the bloc have been put forward.
This includes five influential figures from Nordic countries including Sweden – known allies of Britain – who issued a joint plea to ensure some nations inside, and outside of the bloc, lessen their ties with Brussels.
Mark Brolin, Jan-Erik Gustafsson, Helle Hagenau, Ulla Klötzer and Erna Bjarnadóttir – from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland – co-authored the opinion piece, which also outlined how the EU would turn against voters who criticised the bloc.
They said that “due to the growing scepticism of voters towards the EU, many member states are struggling with political instability at home”.
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Ursula von der Leyen with Boris Johnson during Brexit talks
The five experts, who published their piece in Aftonbladet in 2017, detailed how there was also a “growing friction” with member states of what was deemed “incompatible goals” demanded by the EU.
The panel continued: “Thus, the so-called pacifier of peace has become a source of disagreement.
“Public debate is more constrained than ever since democratisation; the treatment of EU critics seems to have set low moral standards.
“And the people? EU spokesmen gave voters a top rating while supporting the Union.
“Now, when the voice of the electorate is mixed with scepticism, a large part of Europeans are described as narrow-minded, old-fashioned and isolationist or in the power of ‘dark forces’.”
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The likes of Denmark, Sweden and Finland are member states, and although Iceland and Norway are not, they retain ties through the European Economic Area.
The authors agreed that in order for those nations to prosper, some power must be relinquished – including in Iceland and Norway where the bloc has some power over their laws.
They urged their nations to “curtail their political and administrative links to a European construction that is already singing his swan song”.
They added: “A fresh start, without the EU T-shirt, would breathe new life into society, especially now that there are golden opportunities to establish new practical links with other important business and security partners.
“Britain is the most obvious example. The Nordic countries would, of course, seek to maintain good relations with the countries of the European Union, without any pressing political superstructure.
“Doing nothing would, in our view, probably secure a long-standing (continuing) political stalemate.”
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When Brexit was being discussed in the UK, a poll by TNS Sifo in Sweden found that 36 percent would be in favour of Stockholm quitting the EU, while 32 percent were against.
It was also revealed that 90 percent of people also thought Brexit would be a bad thing for the bloc – and in particular Sweden.
Prior to the vote, Per Tryding, deputy chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden claimed a Brexit vote would make Sweden look differently at the UK, a nation it “holds up as a role model”.
He said “Swedes are a little bit in love with the UK”, but after Brexit “the rules of the game will be unknown”, adding: “What are the real conditions if we do business with or invest in Britain in future?
“That insecurity will make people shy away from investment.”