FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, the Socialist aspirant for France’s Presidency, took part in a function to celebrate the ‘renaissance of Europe’; a little premature you might think, since the future form of the EU is still undecided.
One could even ask which of the many European configurations – cultural, historic, linguistic, political, economic, religious – did the organisers have in mind?
If the European Union in its present form should disappear, giving way perhaps to a smaller, financially-stronger grouping, what might be the effect on those countries left by the wayside?
Would they, after leaving, or being ejected from, the eurozone, still enjoy various peripheral benefits, the right to travel and work within the European Union, for example? Of course, it would be up to the peoples of each of these states to decide whether they wished to renegotiate EU laws and treaties, or go their own way entirely.
Britain, not a very good example perhaps, having never been part of the eurozone, might ask its government to at last go along with the will of the people and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
The majority of the British public has long been disenchanted with this piece of EU regulation, and would prefer to see Parliament and the Judiciary free to follow commonsense British law and justice.
The same might be said for the Health and Safety at Work legislation, too often used in furthering compensation claims for accidents that would never have occurred if the ‘victims’ had taken a little responsibility upon themselves.
When, as part of my work, planning meetings took place to ‘fine-tune’ a technical contract, the Heath and Safety document, covering anything that might be construed a hazard, was often bigger than a London telephone directory, whilst the highly detailed engineering specification was about half that. More time and money was spent trying to out-guess ambulance-chasers than on anything else, and that can’t be good for either business or employment.
If Britain were one day to leave the European Union, that wouldn’t necessarily mean the automatic dumping of every EU directive that has found its way into British law, but there is so much dross, so much over-regulation that, if it were all applied with equal vigour, everyone would have a criminal record.
Greece, Spain, and Portugal, if they left the eurozone, might say ‘enough is enough’ and decide to run their own finances instead of having to obtain the approval of the EU Commission – those unelected foreign politicians – before presenting their budgets to the national parliaments.
Then of course, there are the military treaties. If one EU country is attacked, that is considered an attack on all – very dangerous and very like the starting points of both world wars. In 1914 Serbia was attacked by Austria, which brought Russia, Serbia’s treaty ally into the conflict and in its turn, Germany. Britain and France were Russia’s treaty allies, and the whole of Europe burned. In 1939 it was the turn of Poland, with which Britain and France had signed a mutual aid treaty; and away it all went again.
So you see, we can’t be sure if Europe in its present form even has a future to celebrate, never mind a ‘renaissance’.