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.
7 thoughts on “Europa, Europa”
Refreshing to read a balanced assessment of the status quo.
I must admit, I am tired of Brexit, tired of the EU debate, and just want to see the end of it.
Perhaps that is the strategy. Death by remoaning.
I have many friends and neighbours here in Spain, of many different European nationalities. They all have one thing in common. They listen to their own national media. That is the only interesting part of this whole affair. The Germans all come out with the same Schlagzeilen, the French with the same manchette, etc. It’s so apparent and low level, that I can’t help smiling. ☺
Gazoopi: Yes, that is part of the strategy. The EU is acting in bad faith and being obstructionist and many remoaners are trying to undermine Brexit at every turn. The hapless PM is completely out of her depth and she isn’t providing any leadership, preferring, rather, to outsource that to Remoaners in the civil service who know how to speak to her. Thus, Brexit will, it is hoped, either be dropped or be watered down to the point that the UK remains a de facto non-voting member of the EU. My point, though, wasn’t really Brexit or the EU. It was the bizarre obsession with only increasingly minor and irrelevant part of the world. EU or non-EU, Europe is falling apart and it’s not where the dynamic is found.
The EU is surely acting ‘pour decourager des autres’? Otherwise there’d soon be a queue at the exit.
Janus: The only countries that are still relatively enthusiastic about the EU are failed or failing states like Spain, Ireland and Romania. The more functional ones like Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Finland are at best tepid in their support. The EU is drifting with no real sense of purpose or legitimacy. The enthusiasm is gone, the idealism is gone, the support is gone. The only thing keeping it going now is a sense of uncertainty.
As Janus has already said, it’s nice to come across a logical and sensible view.Would you mind if I shared it?
JHLeck: Go right ahead.