The cross-party group raised questions over whether the European Union can actually navigate its way through the global pandemic without key interventions from its member state governments. Brexit Watch said a number of European capitals had been forced to make their own unilateral decisions to combat the deadly coronavirus because eurocrats had been slow and inefficient in their responses. Its chairman Ben Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP, said the bloc’s single market had been ignored in favour of more efficient domestic approaches to counter the impact of COVID-19 throughout the continent.
He told Express.co.uk: “The coronavirus has revealed actually how ineffectual the the European Union is on a pan-European basis.
“When push came to shove and countries that to do what was right for countries they absolutely jettisoned the foundations of the European Union – freedom of movement was jettisoned, state aid laws were jettisoned, open markets and trading of goods was jettisoned.”
With Europe now the epicentre of the disease, Brussels has been forced to allow governments to chart their own response.
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The Commission has relaxed its normally harsh state aid and competition laws to allow capitals to protect up their struggling businesses and economies.
Brussels also announced an unprecedented travel ban that barred all non-essential travel into the bloc for 30 days in the hope of heads of government reopening their internal borders to allow a free flow of goods around the single market.
European solidarity has also suffered as a result of the global pandemic, with many countries imposing their own export bans on vital medical supplies.
The French government has ordered its manufacturers to seek permission before shipping medical equipment overseas.
The Czech Republic, Romania and Germany had also deployed similar export bans to keep supplies for domestic consumption.
Mr Habib added: “I think it instantly revealed the EU doesn’t work at a fundamental level.
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“It’s all well and good when things are going swimmingly in the economy, but when push came to shove the system simply didn’t work.”
He also urged Boris Johnson to end the post-Brexit transition period as soon as possible to stop the reintroduction of the EU’s normally rigid rulebook from bogging down the UK’s recovery from the political and economic damage caused by coronavirus.
“We’ve got to be able to march as an independent country free from all of that,” he said.
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Under the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, Britain remains in the EU’s single market and customs union until the end of the year.
Senior figures in Brussels have urged the Government to consider extending that period to enable more time for trade talks after the coronavirus ground negotiations to a standstill.
But Mr Johnson has insisted he will not prolong the country’s stay under Brussels’ rulebook beyond December 31, 2020.
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