One of the more tedious aspects of living in the UK in 2018 is the obsession with Europe. I fully understand that it is relevant in terms of economy and diplomacy. Yet… Europe is, at least by many, treated as if it was the be-all-and-end-all of the human experience. it isn’t. In terms of security and intelligence sharing, the “Five Eyes”, that is, the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have a far more successful and important intelligence sharing network than the EU. In terms of defence, NATO is far more important than the EU and NATO is essentially an American security blanket provided courtesy of the US tax payer. The EU and its previous incarnations didn’t ensure peace, NATO did.Even in terms of economics, the EU is increasingly irrelevant.
The key to success is innovation. Europe does not really innovate. Italy has been caught utterly flat-footed, as have France, Spain and increasingly Germany. Italy with a relatively strong euro cannot compete with a China that’s moving up the value chain in terms of manufacturing, much less Korea, Taiwan, Mexico and Vietnam. Wines from California, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand have matched France. Even cheese is no longer safe. France relies on its past and reputation — stasis, the sclerotic. Australia, Canada and the USA are innovating. Australian cheeses are among the world’s best. In terms of diversity, France lags behind the dreaded United Kingdom’s cheese industry. German industries are struggling to compete. The only thing that’s keeping it relatively afloat is a captive European market. Bosch and Siemens might make good home goods, but are they really better than Samsung, LG, Sony, Sharp, Hitachi or Kenwood? The answer is, emphatically, no.
Europe in 2018 is living on its history, on the leftovers of past prosperity. Has anything in Europe really improved over the last 20, 30 years? Hardly. Despite this, the continent is growing increasingly inward looking — increasingly fearful of what lies beyond its shores. As the world returns to its historical multi-polarity, Europe seems to want to hide behind its delusions of adequacy. Then again, I admit that I live in a different universe. My life is inherently global. I have no real contact with Europe outside the Nordics or Netherlands, but I’m in daily contact with the USA and in regular contact with Japan and Australia. In terms of bread-and-butter issues, I’m nearly as integrated into the American scheme of things as the British, but have almost no meaningful connexion to Europe.