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Many people in the EU’s four largest countries think that since Brexit, relations between British and European politicians have become less cordial. Many also think the EU is still determined to punish the UK for leaving. The findings in an exclusive survey for Euronews by Redfield and Wilton Strategies reflect the strained relations between the two sides – despite a Comprehensive Trade Agreements struck in December last year.
People in France, Germany, Italy and Spain were asked whether they thought the behaviour of British politicians towards the EU and its members had become more or less cordial, or had not changed after Brexit.
Across the four nations, more people replied “less cordial” than those who gave another answer: 51 percent in Spain, 43 percent in Italy, 39 percent in Germany and 37 percent in France.
The Euronews survey also finds that many people in the four EU countries agreed with the statement: “The European Union wants to punish the United Kingdom for leaving.”
In three nations, more people (in Italy 35 percent, Spain 34 percent, France 33 percent) thought this was the case than those who disagreed.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Italian MEP Antonio Maria Rinaldi seemed to agree with the statement.
He also went a step further, accusing Brussels of still wrongly interfering with Britain and treating it as “one of its provinces”.
He said: “The EU knows perfectly well that if the UK’s withdrawal was easy, all the other member states would have followed suit in a heartbeat.
“They are trying to make every single thing complicated so other countries understand that they should never take this path.
“I want to be even more precise: the EU is wrongly interfering with the sovereignties of countries.
“The UK is a proud and sovereign country so interference is not tolerable.”
He added: “The UK is no longer part of the EU but they don’t understand it.
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“They still consider it under their rule, they see it as a province under their empire.
“It is not. And the EU is not an empire.”
In another interview with Express.co.uk, historian and head of an Icelandic free-market think tank Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson echoed Mr Rinaldi’s claims.
He said: “Obviously the EU wants to punish Brexit.
“Brussels is always thinking about politics.
“Just look at the eurozone… if they were thinking about economics, the eurozone would have never covered all the countries that are in the monetary union today.
“How the economy behaves is not the same in all the euro countries so they just did this as a step towards integration, to push for a federal state.”
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Mr Guðmundsson added: “I can say this – if the leaders of the EU are so convinced that their club is a desirable one and the British are making a huge mistake, then why should they make life difficult for Britain?
“Why shouldn’t they help them? Knowing that in a few years Britain would recognise its mistake and come back asking for membership again?
“The EU would be in a much stronger position to ask for certain things and ask them to adopt the euro, for example.”
He concluded: “Why are they trying to make an example of Britain for other EU members?
“It suggests EU leaders don’t have much confidence in this project and that they don’t actually believe it is a great club to be in.”
According to political journalist James Forsyth, though, in some areas, the EU is “going beyond what is required by its own rules” to make life more difficult for Brexit Britain.
He wrote for The Spectator: “The EU is clearly within its rights to treat Britain as a ‘third country’ as that is, after all, the reality of the new UK-EU relationship.
“But in some areas the EU is going beyond what is required by its own rules, making, for example, the export of bivalve molluscs such as oysters and mussels more difficult than it needs to be.”
Mr Forsyth claimed one of those involved in discussions with the EU about this issue reportedly complained that “they’re going out of their way to make a point”, and that “their motivation is how do we prove that Brexit is a mistake”.
Moreover, one experienced “Government Brexit hand” reportedly described it as an “act of petty vengeance”.
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