Sunday, September 05, 2004

Crisis in France and Germany

Via Instapundit I came across this article by Will Hutton in the Observer, a UK Sunday Newspaper (basically the Sunday edition of the left-wing Guardian newspaper).

It is an interesting article drawing attention to the fact that both Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder have quite considerable electoral difficulties, and that both France, and especially Germany, remain in economically unenviable places He makes an intersting allusion to some of the comments in Germany and France with some of the comments in the UK in the 1970s.

Hutton links this into a problem for the EU - which it definitely is. Or least-ways, it is a problem for the EU as traditionally seen pre-25. Personally I am beginning to wonder whether or not it might be time to stop trying to make an old dog perform new tricks, and to get a new dog. Or something.

Anyway, I basically don't agree with the conclusions of the article, where Will Hutton states (and I'll quote it in full for the sake of accuracy):

To imagine that Britain will be immune from this is absurd; what happens in mainland Europe will directly impact upon us as it has throughout our history. What is needed is an understanding that if European states don't hang together they will hang separately - and that because the European Union is the best we have, we'd better make it work.

I have several major difficulties with this. His basic premise it correct, what happens on the Continent has always effected the UK, and always will. Geographical proximity ensures that. I doubt the consequences will be quite as severe as he implies, but then in everything of his I have read he is something of a doom-sayer). But the assertion that there is a hanging party for all if we don't bend our knees to the bureaucrats of Brussels is utterly absurd.

Of course, Will Hutton himself cut his teeth in the 1970s, and although I did not experience them being thankfully too young I think he makes a good allusion. He is also an opponent of Thatcherism, so perhaps he conveniently forgets what changed in Britain in 1979. The election of Margaret Thatcher gave back the United Kingdom a sense of belief in itself, a sense of belief that survived the paralysis of John Major, and a self-confidence burns all the more fiercely under Tony Blair. No longer are we the world-spanning Empire of years past. I think we are something better.

France and Germany need to find again their way, to stop relieving their respective pasts and to start living their futures. All it takes is one person to start the flame. And Europe, and the world, will be a better place for it.

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