EU’s ticking time bomb: Devastating impact of Brexit on bloc’s integrity laid bare

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The Brexit process and negotiations have now gone on for four years. For many Remainers and Leavers alike, some sort of end to the ordeal will be much sought after. The UK will formally and officially exit the EU in all ways by the end of the year; on December 31, 2020.

Despite this, both the UK and the EU continue to attempt to strike various agreements in a post-Brexit world.

The most pressing issue is that of any sort of free trade agreement.

The UK left the EU in name on January 31, 2020, but remains in the single market and customs union until the end of the year.

This is known as the transition period – something of which Brussels has suggested it would allow the UK to extend should an agreement not be met, but what Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly ruled out.

However, two weeks ago, the Government announced that relaxed controls will apply for goods coming into the UK from the EU for a period of six months after December 31.

These agreed controls will apply whether the UK and the EU conclude a free trade agreement before the end of the year or not – allowing for a much smaller gap between the previous “deal” or “no deal” outcomes.

The very nature of the Brexit talks still continuing some four years later is testament to how unprepared both parties were; how unlikely most people thought the UK would leave the EU.

Yet, for many, it was a sign that the bloc’s previously solid walls were beginning to show cracks.

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Beppe Grillo, founder and president of the Italian right-wing populist party, Five Star Movement, in 2016, argued the Brexit vote had revealed the EU’s weakness.

He said: “The mere fact that a country like Great Britain is holding a referendum on whether to leave the EU signals the failure of the European Union.”

Seeing what had happened in the UK, Mr Grillo pushed Italy’s place within the EU onto the agenda.

At the time, he called for a full full referendum on EU membership.

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It was a tense period in Italian politics, as Five Star won 19 out of 20 mayoral elections including in Rome and Turin, in a major blow to Matteo Renzi, then Prime Minister.

The pressure of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy may further fan fears within the EU over the nation’s membership.

Growing concern over the impact of lockdown on Italy’s economy has led to a surge in support for the idea of an independence outside the EU.

A survey of 1,000 Italians carried out in April by Tecne showed 42 percent would like to see their country break ties with Brussels.

This marked a jump from 26 percent in November 2018.

Marco Tondo, a real estate agent based in Rome, sums up the lack of confidence in the EU.

He told BBC News: “I have changed my mind a little on Europe.

“We are facing an absolute emergency, and seeing countries turning their backs on each other is really awkward.”

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