Germany: Protesters set fire to model of Deutsche Bank logo
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France saw its fifth weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s COVID-19 pass this week. Hundreds were arrested in Berlin as protests against coronavirus restrictions raged across the city in early August. Italians stood in solidarity with France, opposing similar health passes related to COVID-19, arguing that they impinge on their civil liberties.
While all the unrest was put in motion by the coronavirus pandemic, many claim that unease in Europe is symptomatic of a wider issue: an increasingly homogeneous continent which the EU presides over.
Barbara Kolm, an Austrian economist, has long since argued that Brussels will at some point force millions of Europeans to protest against its rules and regulations, especially since the EU and its member states are now closer than ever.
Last year, countries part of the bloc agreed to something that the EU’s predecessor – the European Economic Community – pledged never to commit to: shared debt.
And so for the first time in the bloc’s history, 27 European countries now share debt as a single outfit.
Its proponents say it once and for all unites a Europe in the midst of a disjointed world; its critics say the countries hit worst by the coronavirus pandemic – those in Southern Europe – will now be chained to their wealthier northern neighbours for the indefinite future.
Speaking before all of this and speaking five years after the 2008 banking crisis, Ms Kolm predicted that mass social unrest would eventually blanket the continent.
Talking about the various bailouts of the time, specifically Greece which suffered tremendously after the crash – and which will receive hefty EU COVID-19 funds – she said the mounting pressure will eventually bubble over.
Ms Kolm explained: “The EU is the biggest and most expensive peace project, but eventually it will not keep pace.
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“It will start social unrest.
“When these things pop up, people will rethink the EU.
“The Union as we know it now will not exist in ten years.”
Eurosceptics fear that the recovery fund will translate to an EU that is harder to leave.
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Concerns have also arisen over countries left with near-irreparable debt, similar to Greece’s situation post-2008.
Sergio Montanaro, a spokesman for Italy’s ‘Italexit’ party, told Express.co.uk that the recovery package “binds countries to the EU”.
Greece has often been used as a case example for how these situations turn out.
The country is scheduled to repay its last loan to the European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2040.
A condition of the loans put in place by the EU was that Greece implemented severe austerity measures.
The results of this have been devastating, with youth unemployment having soared.
Currently, 40 percent of those aged 15-24 are unemployed – the average for the same age group across the entire continent is just 14 percent.
Robert Tombs, the renowned British historian, said the faulty nature in which the EU operates regarding loans and grants could in future lead to further “discontent” across the continent.
The problem, he told Express.co.uk, was that for countries like Greece, “there’s no obvious way out”.
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