Thursday, December 13, 2007

Collective Strength

Growing up on that piece of land known affectionately by Anglophile Bill Bryson as "the small island," I am well aware of the so-called "Island Mentality" that surrounds its inhabitants. Due to some sort of primal reflex, Britain seems to try and push away foreign elements. Despite suffering greatly over the course of World War II, Britain was not a founding member of the European Union. Considering that it took the military might of the United States and Soviet Union to really take an upper hand in the war, it was perhaps naive of then Prime Minister Harold MacMillan to not join the European Economic Community upon its foundation. This was high noon of the Cold War, and if war had broken out, a fragmented Western Europe would have been knocked aside by the considerably stronger Soviet forces. Of course, certain countries have actual reasons for not joining the EU. For instance, Switzerland is hell-bent on pristine neutrality, and Norway's whaling industry is key to its economy, but Britain simply does not have a case to stand on. In the two World Wars, the UK required the US Army to fend off the Axis forces...
50 years after the EEC came into being, and Britain is an established member of what has developed into the European Union. There has been almost no bad blood amongst Western Europe since 1945, and despite the noise-making of the UK Independence Party a few years back, Britain is still part of the EU. Not that its citizens like it that way.
But still, people do not see the practical advantages of the Euro, seeing it more as a voucher for cheap booze than a pan-European currency. That is what really irks me, that Britons feel the right to flaunt their membership, without fulfilling one of the most basic commitments. The point I'm trying to get across it that whilst there has been no conflict in Western Europe for half a century, that is largely down to the EEC and the EU, and if member states do not abide by their rules, fractures may develop and the strong collective strength built up by the EU could subside, and with the regional economy struggling to keep up with the likes of India and China, the future would not look bright. So I urge you, people of Britain, to take up that Euro. It may not seem like a difference-maker, but believe me, it is.

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