Denmark 'shouldn't have to pay for EU's struggles' says Kofod
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Kofod said the Brexit deal signed by the UK and the EU in December 2020 will serve as the perfect model for other countries in the bloc to follow Britain out. The Danish People’s Party MEP argued Denmark only joined the EU in 1973 after Britain’s decision to sign up to the bloc.
The country formally applied to join what was then called the European Communities on August 1961, a day after the British applied.
But as the then President of France Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s membership, Denmark withdrew its application.
Mr Kofod claims it is now time for his country to follow the UK once again on EU membership matters.
He said: “Before Brexit happened the EU system said it would be almost impossible to have a model where you could decide yourself, who you give access to your country’s social benefits if you want to trade with the European Union.
“And what Brexit did was it split these things. So you can actually decide more who you let in.
“You can protect your state and your social benefits.
“But you have the opportunity to trade with the European Union as well.
“And I think that model is super interesting for a small country like Denmark.
“We only joined the European Union back in the days because Great Britain joined the European Union and we wanted to keep trading.
“So that’s actually the big question. If we are able to continue trading with the European Union and with Great Britain and that’s the main topic for us.”
Asked whether he saw the prospect of Denmark trading with the EU outside the bloc and signing a bilateral trade agreement with the UK as a reason to abandon the bloc, he replied decisively: “100 percent.”
Commenting on Michel Barnier’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, he added: “I often have the feeling that the European Union had the agenda to make it look way more difficult than it really was.
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“The discussions and the rumours in Brussels were that it couldn’t be too easy because if it was really easy and if the deal was really too good, other countries, might be tempted to take the same deal later.
“So that’s the kind of feeling I have about Barnier and how the European system worked out this deal.
“It had to look really difficult.”
The Danish MEP also lashed out at the European Commission’s handling of the coronavirus vaccination strategy, claiming it has been a “complete disaster”.
He said: “The European Union didn’t manage well at all.
“We are in a situation where Great Britain, the United States and Israel are far from us.
“I mean, they had the ability to get way more vaccines.
“Denmark is one at the top of EU states but we are still far behind. It’s a complete disaster.”
He added: “We have the capacity to vaccinate 100,000 people daily but we had to stop because we don’t have vaccines left.
“And that is because the European Union didn’t deliver.”
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was forced to issue an apology to member states after she engaged in a bitter contractual row with vaccine supplier AstraZeneca.
Mrs von der Leyen also apologised for threatening a vaccine exports ban to Northern Ireland by triggering Article 16 of the Brexit protocol.
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