The State of Europe

Veröffentlicht: August 29, 2012 in Idle speech
Schlagwörter:, ,

I spent my recent holiday at the seaside in the centre of  Europe, the continent, in Croatia, and this put me in mind of the state of Europe, the Union.

Of course, Croatia isn’t a member of the EU and this was most clearly felt when you first get into the country and have to frantically dig out your passport from underneath layers and layers of holiday junk that have accumulated in what was a few hours ago a clearly ordered car that had been packed mit military precision. Yes, we have rather got used to not having to show our passports at the borders, even to hardly notice that we have entered another country. My British friends won’t know the feeling, given that the UK has never liked the whole EU thing and the Scots might be quite happy to establish some borders where they could strip-search the English in a dark, soundproof room with only one desktop lamp…
The EU hasn’t had great press during the last few years (or ever, if you are reading from across the channel), but during this holiday I have grown quite fond of its fundamental principle of trusting each other rather than controlling everything yourself and so for example not checking passports within Schengen countries.

Spending time in a big tourist area has emphasized the variety of European countries and how close we all are together. You can tell who is from where by looking at the car number plates: All cars registered within the EU (Brits, this is EU bureauracy gone mad, so only read on if you feel strong enough!) have a blue field with golden circle of stars at the left hand side of the number plate with the abbreviation for the originating country. So we have a D for Deutschland, the French have F, Italians I, Poles PL, Czech CZ etc. (Even the Serbs, who are a long way off the EU, have got the hang of this by printing the blue field only… ). So by seeing a blue number plate you know the car in front of you is from a EU country. This common feature may just be a tiny symbol, but to me it generates a feeling of belonging together which I thought is rather nice in an ever more fragmented world.

What I have also learned it how much my personal tastes have been shaped by England rather than Europe. When you watch televison or listen to the radio here on the continent you are very much reminded of the Eurotrash programme that was on in the UK around 15 years ago. If you are too young to remember this, think Eurovision and you get what I mean. I look at that exuberance with amazement, but when I have a choice I will always return to the more restrained, more controlled and sleaker Anglo-Saxon style. Oh, and Brits, careful here: It is Speedos all the way, lunchbox or not!

And there is one thing that certainly unites all Europeans (even team GB!): the use of the English language. A little English goes a long way here in the centre of Europe and it is our common mode of communication.

And here’s what my daughter says: „English is just better!“
There you have it.


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