If the European Union wants to achieve its goal of 'ever closer Union', along with continued border expansion, then it's time Brussels re-evaluated its strategy. The behaviour and approach in recent years has done nothing but tarnish the EU's reputation and make it perfectly clear to all neighbouring countries this is not a community you want to be part of if you do not want to be tied to Brussels for decades to come, argues Jayne Adye, Director of Get Britain Out.

Ever since the EU's inception as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the goal has been continuous expansion of member states and economic power in order to bind countries together to help maintain peace – a noble goal to start with. However, behind this objective lay a far more sinister idea of removing national borders and creating a federalised Europe with unelected bureaucrats at the very top.

Key to achieving this idea is good public perception, with the citizens and governments of countries around Europe believing joining the EU would do them more good than harm. This is a façade which has started to crumble since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. Not only has the UK been able to succeed outside of the EU so far, in spite of a global pandemic, but also the actions of the EU towards the UK for the last 5 years have exposed the ideological vindictiveness of the bureaucrats in Brussels for any country which is not willing to embrace total EU control.

It has become increasingly clear since the Brexit negotiations started that the EU simply refuses to relinquish power which it has gained, whether this is over data regulations (which they have begrudgingly only just granted the UK equivalence), financial services regulation, or health and food standards to name just a few. On all of these counts, despite the UK leaving the EU, there is an insistence the UK must agree to continue following EU rules – simply because we are in close proximity to their economic bloc. Quite ridiculous!

Why would any country look at the European model and think it is the right choice to join, knowing as a government you would be signing away your sovereignty? This would not only be for the duration you were a member state of the EU, but also knowing you would never be able to fully regain sovereignty if it was your country's democratic wish to leave the EU in the future?

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This, however, is not only the experience of the UK. In recent years EU negotiators have insisted on their own vision of 'the power of the EU', believing their own priorities come before anyone else they negotiate with. This approach to negotiations has caused Switzerland to finally walk away from 7 years' worth of negotiations with the EU over a new trade agreement, because the EU attempted to bully and blackmail them to force freedom of movement on the country.

What's more, it seems the EU has been unable to learn lessons from Brexit, with no change in its internal policy approach. If anything, it seems Brexit has resulted in a greater drive towards reducing the powers of member states and ignoring the interests of each country in favour of a single-minded federalist approach. For example, instead of decreasing the EU budget as a result of the loss of contributions from the UK, the EU now forces Member States to pay more to make up the difference, with countries like Ireland facing a huge jump in payments – a bill any new member state is also expected to pick up.

We should remember the amount a country is forced to pay is based on the size of their economy, meaning if a country enjoys economic success then your contribution increases – effectively punishing success. It is the population of a country which should receive the benefits of economic success, not the pay packets of the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

Instead of thinking about whether there is some way to make EU membership more attractive to newcomers in the years after Brexit, the EU have gone in completely the opposite direction. They are clearly attempting to vilify the UK for having the audacity to vote to leave and they are trying to implement ever greater central federalist control – as if this would have motivated the British public to stay. This decision should, at the very least, cause prospective member states to think twice about signing up, or perhaps it should set them running for the hills, never to look back!

Whether it's the EU's sclerotic approach to vaccine rollout, the ever-growing development of an EU Army, or the blatant disregard for the democratic wishes of the citizens of Europe, it's clear that when it comes to attracting more countries to sign up for Membership, the EU is its own worst enemy.

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