"How sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful child"
The European Union, which turns 50 this Sunday, is America’s pampered godchild. You won’t find people saying that at the birthday fling that Angela Merkel is throwing in Berlin...it would have been a sickly infant had it not been for America’s unflinching strategic and financial support for European recovery, and for the idea of European unity.
The extraordinary Marshall Plan, whose 60th anniversary this year is likely to get somewhat less attention than the EU’s half-centenary, rained American taxpayer’s money on the stricken continent ....it was Nato, another instance of American statesmanship, that guarded the gates of Europe’s zone of peace against the Soviet threat. If the European Venus had not had Mars at her side in those years of now mostly forgotten danger, Europeans would be nothing like as rich today; nor would they, perhaps, be so smugly self-righteous about their streak of pacifism.
...it is now dogma that, with a population of nearly 500 million, the enlarged EU is more than a match for America. The flavour of this week’s birthday celebrations, to judge by some of the supercilious rubbish already written, is to dwell on the EU’s superiority as a social, even moral, model for the world, compared with the raw brashness of American power. To a great extent, the EU defines itself by what it is not: it is not America.
It is hard to say how well the EU “model” sells abroad, though it shows no sign of being copied. But it is embarrassingly clear that the EU is not selling well at home....
The sad truth is that the punters will barely notice this EU birthday, or care if they do. The EU brings to mind two things: politicians arguing over such impenetrable legal texts as the late unlamented EU constitution; and endless, irksome EU regulations governing slaughterhouse, shop, even the fabric that covers your sofa. ...Excessive regulation also means that people associate the EU with less, not more, democracy. Their votes have no impact on the EU; most laws come from Brussels, not the governments they elect. And this had bred a general disaffection with politics. No wonder then that politicians are desperate to get voters to love the EU, or at least to dislike it a bit less.
Happy Birthday, hope it's the last.