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Can the Europeans be (Again) Saved by the Brits?

Zurich, 19th September 1946.

“We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be
able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth  living.
The process is simple. All that is needed is the resolve of hundreds of millions of  men and women to do right instead of wrong, and gain as their reward, blessing instead of cursing … The first step in the re-creation of the European family must be a partnership between France and Germany. In this way only can France recover the moral leadership of  Europe. There can be no revival of Europe without a spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany. The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and  truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important. Small nations will count as much as large ones and gain their  honour by their contribution to the common cause.”

Who wrote this in 1946 was not a German. Not a French nor an Italian. Not an American. It was Winston Churchill.

Yesterday Timothy Garton Ash wrote in the Guardian the following: “It does Europe no good at all to have one its largest economies – and the home of its leading financial centre – stand aside. With two parallel structures in an already labyrinthine European Union, there will be endless wrangles about who is entitled to do what. There can be no credible European foreign and security policy without Britain. In the eyes of China and America, Europe will be weakened. A big day for Europe, then, but no cause for celebration.

He is right. We should see this last event, the partial detachment of the United Kingdom from the only construct that so far has worked as Churchill expected, giving work to millions of people, the European Union, as one additional, if not the worse, consequence of the logic of this construction based on Austerity that we are trying to build.

Mind you: Mr. Cameron he himself is pray of the latter when he thinks that consolidating fiscal policy will solve his problems. And we are keenly aware of the national interests that were pursued by Mr. Cameron in saying “No”. But, just like Adam Smith, who was suspicious of those who “affected to trade for the public good” and thought that each one that intended to pursue only his gain was led to promote an end which was not part of his intention,  there is a sense in which Europe can win only if all countries have something to gain from this Union and a sense in which Mr. Cameron’s actions may do Europe good by stopping or putting a brake on a project that is bound to lead us into a huge recession, ruining the euro in the process, and by forcing us to think more carefully about the consequences of our actions.

There is still time. To voice our discontent. To ask for a Europe that puts growth, development, solidarity ahead of efficiency, fines, consolidations. Britain, of all countries, might once again help Europe.

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