Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Decaying Venice or Irrelevant Switzerland?

There's an interesting article on the future of Europe in the FT today.


Mostly, I agree with it, although I have my doubts about Blair’s suitability for the role into which Dominique Moisi casts him. But the need to replace the unpopular, ineffective, opportunistic and above all weak current leaders of France, Italy and Germany seems indisputable, even if it means Sarkozy and Merkel. Europe's progress so far has to some extent been based on the prestige engendered by its economic successes, which were achieved , at times, as in the early eighties, by socialist Finance Ministers such as Delors and Wim Kok imposing unpopular deregulation.

However I did have a problem with a detail in one passage of the article.

'This petty nationalism reveals a weakness in the European project, one that is largely due to great European leaders of the past such as Jacques Delors, the former European Commission president. In his opposition to a European kind of nationalism based on emotion, Mr Delors left Europe vulnerable to the assaults of emotional irrationality. In the French and Dutch referendums, the Yes camp left the weapons of emotion for the sole use of the No camp. Today, no sense of European patriotism can be mobilised to restrain national jingoism. '


Wasn’t it in fact European Commission President Delors who said, in a 1993 speech to European church leaders:
“We won't succeed with Europe solely on the basis of legal expertise or economic know-how. If in the next ten years we haven't managed to give a soul to Europe, to give it spirituality and meaning, the game will be up”.

33 Comments:

Blogger Roman said...

I agree. I think Delors was a visionary, rather than a technocrat.

I do think that the EU lacks an emotional / affective framework that would enhance people's collective identity [although that doesn't come without risks - see http://gerodimos.blogspot.com/2005/03/seminar-review-politics-of-affect.html ).

Re Chirac et al:
in the late 1990s (when social democracy was reigning in Europe and the US) people thought that the right was the problem. Then when the "centre-left" collapsed, people thought that that was the problem. The current leaders have proven that the party label is not in itself enough: you still need a vision, a strategy and the ability to motivate people and deliver...

3:02 PM  
Blogger Edward Hugh said...

Hi John,

I wasn't really here to comment on this post, but while I'm here I suppose I agree with Roman. I have a reasonably positive view of Delors, and despite my hatred of jingoism, it obviously is difficult for the majority of ordinary people to get hold of an EU which is a kind of intellectual construct meta-object, although personally of course, these are the ones I *love* most (am I really a Platonist?).

No, what I'm here for is to let you know that I am off on holiday soon - one or two last posts in the pipeline - and one or two anti-semites to kick definitively out - and I'm off.

I just wanted to say what a pleasure it has been meeting you, and how I have enjoyed your comments and participation. I definitely consider you part of the afoe family.

Of course, all the better to disagree with you with :).

So just to say, see you in late August or September, and have a nice summer, bombs etc permitting.

Edward

9:34 AM  
Blogger travisprehiem53060252 said...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:58 PM  
Anonymous Dj said...

I think there is no question that Europeans seem to focus on the power of negative thinking. It takes great mental discipline to discipline the mind and focus on the good. I think ever since the second world war that Europeans have felt guilt and have been afraid to have an opinion about themselves that would look arrogant. Well, it's time to forgive yourselves and start setting a new standard for the world. People learn from guilt so that they can make themselves better. You have so much to offer the world.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Well, you got off to a great start. Think you'll ever come back to it?

Anyway. Can you drop me a line? You can reach me at muir underscore! doug, in the domain they call bah dot com.

cheers,

Doug M. (from Fistful of Euros)

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog :-)
Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day :)

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