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Confirmation from the master

Posted by Richard Thursday, September 09, 2004

Kaletsky in The Times today, entitled "Europe's leaders are too parochial in their vision" makes, for a good read.

He recounts how European politicians love to discuss parochial subjects: "co-ordination" whether on budgets, taxes, subsidies, pensions, infrastructure, labour markets or competition, but always first and foremost within the EU.

"As long as this inward-looking obsession with 'building Europe' through co-ordination continues, the EU is likely to fall farther and farther behind the rest of the world", Kaletsky writes. He continues:

But that is not the only possible outcome. In the next few years, the rejection of the new constitution, the breakdown of the Stability and Growth Pact and the collapse of political support for established parties, especially in France and Germany, may force Europeans to start thinking afresh. They would then discover that Europe has all the most important ingredients for competitive success in the modern world.

As one of the Italian ministers justifiably boasted, his country has always had an extraordinary culture of individualism, creativity, enterprise and global vision. The same is true of other European countries. Europeans could still dominate the world — if only they would stop thinking about Europe.
Reading this, however, we had a curious sense of dèja vu. On 29 July, we reviewed a similar piece, written by Martin Jacques - a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics Asia Research Centre. Then he wrote:

The integration project, which has dominated the life of Europe for almost half a century, has served to reinforce and accentuate this sense of introversion, even at times acted as the author of it. This is not surprising. It has been a huge, difficult and novel undertaking. It has commanded the energy, brains and focus of the continent, directing them towards the nature, boundaries and arrangements of Europe rather than the wider world. The result has been self-absorption…
We headed our piece "Little Europeans", arguing that Jacques was identifying a phenomenon on which we ourselves have remarked. While the Europhiles so easily brand Eurosceptics as "little Englanders", they themselves are the "little Europeans", we wrote. Effectively, Kaletsky is saying the same thing. Nice to have it confirmed.