Paris and Brussels aren’t angry with Britain over Europe, they’re frightened of us
For years the Europhiles have claimed the intellectual high ground. Now they look stupid, and that’s why they’re lashing out at Britain
Let us be provocative, but only to illustrate a point.
All the clever people got it right about Europe. The Eurozone was structurally flawed, just as they said it was.
The smart set’s sustained critique of the tight integrationist model for the European Union has been vindicated. From foreign policy to tax policy, it was clear to anyone with an ounce of analytical ability that the diversity of nations across the continent would ensure that ambitions for a superstate would eventually collapse in chaos, or could only be pushed through by abandoning basic democratic principles. In the latter case collapse would follow at some point anyway due to the inevitable popular (or populist) backlash.
The intellect of the average Europhile? Too polite to answer the question.
Now imagine that you have devoted a considerable part of your life to supporting or even building the single currency and the wider EU project. How would you feel about the above characterisation?
The answer would depend on how your project is looking. If it’s all a roaring success, one suspects you might allow yourself to somewhat playfully brush it off. Even insults have little purchase over a product that’s coated in gold. It’s like having a problem with a supermodel and then venting your frustration by calling her ugly. You would be quietly reminded that you might just have missed the point. You’d be the one looking stupid.
But what if it’s not all going swimmingly but it’s not clearly about to go down like the Titanic either? At that point you’d probably be angry, and rightly so. There are no grounds at this stage for questioning people’s analytical abilities, let alone insulting them. That, at least, is what you would argue. The jury’s still out, you would say. And who said we were building utopia? Anyway, who do you think you are?
Now consider the scenario which most closely represents current realities. There is a real possibility that the whole thing is indeed going down. It’s not certain. But it’s clearly a scenario that cannot be dismissed.
You and your heroes admit as much. Summits aimed at “saving the euro” are being held, one after another in implicit acceptance that the single currency is truly threatened. You have a credit crisis which is global, but whose effects are being most keenly felt in the Eurozone.
The leader of France has said publicly that Greece should never have been allowed to join, thus accepting the charge that one size really doesn’t fit all. Independent institutions are now openly doubting the ability of European leaders to fix the crisis. On Friday, the ratings agency Fitch said: "Following the EU Summit on 9-10 December, Fitch has concluded that a 'comprehensive solution' to the Eurozone crisis is technically and politically beyond reach."
Remember, this is not coming from your traditional enemies. In fact, most of it is coming from your traditional supporters. Indeed, a substantial part is coming from you yourself.
So, under such circumstances, how do you respond to the imaginary characterisation we started with?
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