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Ursula von der Leyen insisted the European Union had emerged stronger and more united from the coronavirus pandemic and the dire financial consequences of the forced continent-wide lockdown. Ms von der Leyen outlined her programme of reform for the next year, calling for further unity from member states and more commitment to the bloc. But Rassemblement National MEP Nicolas Bay was quick to shut down the European Commission President as he highlighted key flaws in her argument.

Mr Bay said: “Well, it seems there are deaf ears. People seem to be both present and absent, this expression is made for you Ms von der Leyen.

“The state of the European Union is terrible at the moment. Every single day, its powerlessness seems more and more flagrant.

“The EU, let’s be aware of it, it’s just a source of sarcasm on the world’s stage.

“Our citizens distrust the EU and are now exasperated by the EU. Legitimate exasperation given the lack of coordination at the time of the health crisis at the same time as the European institutions express self-satisfaction.”

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The French MEP continued: “The efforts to relaunch growth is temporary and uncertain in its effects, and it’s not clear who is going to be paying.

“Of course, it’s going to be the net contributor countries who end up paying, who will end up paying more than they ever receive.

“Own resources are described as miracle solutions but in your long speech you didn’t mention this – on behalf of our nations, you’ve taken on an exorbitant amount of debt.

“Who would believe for a moment that a tax on plastic or a tax on carbon would be sufficient to ever repay such a debt?”

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Mr Bay added: “You don’t have a calendar, you don’t have a method, you don’t have any kind of guarantee about how any of this money will be reimbursed.

“You talked about other necessary economic transformations but you impose constraints, environmental limitations on our companies, which make us less competitive compared to the ferocious competition we see around the world.

“And, of course, Europe has a complete free economy to all comers. We must protect our market.”

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