Many people in the EU’s four largest countries think that since Brexit, relations between EU and UK politicians have become less cordial. Several 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 last December.
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 also agreed with the statement.
He also went a step further, accusing Brussels of still considering Britain 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 that 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.
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“The UK is a proud and sovereign country so interferences are not tolerable.”
He added: “The UK is no longer part of the EU but they don’t understand it.
“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.”
Speaking at the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris in October, 2016, former French President François Hollande claimed Britain had to pay a price for leaving the EU.
At a dinner attended by former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Mr Hollande said: “There must be a threat, there must be a risk, there must be a price, otherwise we will be in negotiations that will not end well and, inevitably, will have economic and human consequences.
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“Britain has decided on a Brexit, I believe even a hard Brexit.
“Well, we must go all the way with Britain’s will to leave the European Union.”
Mr Hollande had long insisted Britain had to live with the consequences of exiting the EU.
He added “firmness” was absolutely necessary otherwise “the principles of the European Union will be questioned” and “other countries or other parties will be minded to leave the European Union in order to have the supposed benefits and no downsides or rules”.
His speech marked the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Institut Jacques Delors, a think tank founded by the former European Commission President.
Mr Hollande said Delors “had also faced a crisis provoked by the United Kingdom”, noting that in the Eighties, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher obtained a rebate on its EU contributions worth billions of pounds every year.
He said: “Thatcher wanted to remain in Europe, but received a cheque in return.
“Today, Britain wants to leave, but does not want to pay anything. That is not possible.”