Germany: Protesters set fire to model of Deutsche Bank logo
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Talk of the EU splitting up has grown since the UK left the Union last year, with several member states lined up as potential nations to emulate Brexit. This year post-Brexit Britain’s swift COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been compared to the sluggish distribution of jabs in the EU. The pandemic has further exposed Brussels’ bureaucracy, as well as the fault lines that exist between some member states.
Politicians in EU nations such as Germany have used the chaos of the pandemic to make the case for their own countries exiting the Union.
However, even before the virus spread across Europe and the world, talk about the imminent break-up of the EU was rife.
Recently resurfaced remarks made by the former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls revealed fears that the EU was at risk of imploding.
In January 2016, the politician was quoted by the BBC as saying: “Europe could lose its historical footing, and the project could die quickly. Things could fall apart in months.”
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Mr Valls made the comments as he attended the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos.
Along with his fellow European leaders, the Prime Minister was concerned that the EU would be overwhelmed by the migrant crisis.
Between 2015 and 2016 up to 5.2 million refugees and migrants reached Europe from war-torn countries including Syria and Iraq.
Mr Valls was asked about whether the EU’s Schengen Area of free movement was about to collapse.
He said: “No, it’s Europe that can die, not the Schengen area. If Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders.
“The European project, not Europe as much. Not our values, but the concept of Europe that our founding fathers had, yes it is in very grave danger.
“That’s why you need border guards and controls outside the European Union. Sometimes we had the feeling that borders did not exist. No, borders do exist so you have to protect them.”
Mr Valls suggested he was at odds with Germany’s migration policy, which saw the country take in one million refugees in 2015.
He added: “But the first message we need to send now with the greatest of firmness is to say that we will not welcome all the refugees in Europe.
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“A message that says come, you will be welcome, provokes major shifts. Today, when we speak in Europe, a few seconds later it will be shared on smartphones in the refugee camps of Libya.”
New warnings that the EU may be on its last legs have emerged during the pandemic as politicians have hit out at the bloc’s bureaucracy and finances.
German MEP Gunnar Beck said in April that the “EU is finished financially” due to the impact of the pandemic.
He also hit out the continued bailouts of the euro and described the EU as “anti-democratic at its core.”
Meanwhile, in his homeland, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has said it will run on an anti-EU platform in the country’s September elections.
The AfD has taken issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy, as well as the euro.
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