Dutch have replaced Britain as main European troublemakers

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Voters in the Netherlands find it difficult to understand why they have to take on more debt to finance Italy and Spain. Likewise, the Austrians and the Finns. This is even more confusing for Swedes, Poles or Hungarians, because the only reason the fund is really needed is that, as members of the euro, the central banks of Italy, Spain and of France cannot print their own currency. to finance their own recovery.It is something to ask to bail out a club that you are not even a member of. It remains to be seen what end result will emerge. But over a grueling weekend, the so-called “frugal four” cut the amount of grants and demanded reforms for them.

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte is leading this fight. Time and time again, he returned to the negotiating table insisting on stricter conditions. Inevitably, the backlash began.

It is not only President Macron who has lost his temper. On Twitter, in the European press and among other EU leaders, Rutte is suddenly no longer a “good European”. “You could be a hero in your homeland for a few days, but after a few weeks you will be held accountable to all European citizens for blocking an adequate and effective European response,” growled Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“Europe is paralyzed by the need for unanimity between member states. It is high time to start the Conference on the Future of Europe in order to abolish it! »Tweeted arch-federalist Guy Verhofstadt. There have been conferences on corporate tax relief in the Netherlands and the benefits of the single market.

Rutte, rightly, shrugged his shoulders, everything was off. “We are here because everyone takes care of their own country, not to go to each other’s birthday for the rest of our lives,” he said tersely. Very well.

In truth, the rest of the EU should grow. The Brits weren’t awkward and picky in the union just because we thought it was fun. In any large group, there will always be one person or country leading the awkward team. It was the United Kingdom.

Several other countries let us take all the criticism, tut-tutes with modesty on the way in which the British were not committed to “more Europe”, then calmly signed the withdrawals which we negotiated.

After we left, there was a vacancy for Troublemaker No 1. The Dutch had filled it, but it was still going to be someone. The real question is this.

The UK has spent so long running the “no” lobby that voters have finally grown tired of the masquerade and voted to leave. No one particularly likes being the “wrong country”. Will the Netherlands do the same? It’s still far away. But if that happens, historians could mark the July 2020 Coronavirus summit as the start of the process.

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