‘The world wants to know how we see the political union in complement to the currency union,’ said Frau Merkel at the G7 summit. ‘That requires an answer in the foreseeable future and Germany will be a very constructive partner.’
Allow me to translate from Eurospeak, for those of you are still sane enough not to have mastered the dialect. The Germans have allowed themselves to be talked into something they’ve wanted all along: European domination or, if you want to nitpick, a federal state under Germany’s aegis. One day I’ll ask someone to explain the difference, but perhaps not today.
That must have taken the acme of political and diplomatic skill, especially if you compare their present and previous attempts to unite Europe. That bully the Kaiser tried to ride roughshod over the rest of Europe, only to find that Europe would have none of that. Hitler too tried brute force, at first thinly disguised by the fig leaf of the same talk about pan-European solidarity one hears so often today. But Europeans peaked under the fig leaf and took up arms.
Admittedly, Britain alone managed to resist direct rape, and then only because of that nice English Channel presenting a more reliable chastity belt than the Maginot Line. But many individual Europeans would do nasty things to German invaders without the benefit of clearly drawn battle lines. Though bombs, assassinations, sabotage and other surreptitious activities were only variably effective in undermining Germany’s war effort, they communicated in no uncertain terms that some euroscepticism did exist at ground level. And of course once Germany was on her way down, many Europeans joyously gave her a push to make sure she didn’t land softly.
Britain fought, first in the air, then on the ground, against the German notion of European federalism – she was stubbornly opposed to fiscal, monetary or indeed political unification. The United States saw the situation in roughly the same way, though at times she was unable to decide whether it was Nazi Germany or the British Empire that was the lesser evil. Eventually, when the Americans realised they could get rid of both in one fell swoop, the pendulum swung Britain’s way, and America began to send supplies across the Atlantic long before the Japanese dragged her into the war. Parenthetically, I don’t know the German for ‘with friends like these, who needs enemies’, but that’s probably what Hitler was saying when he found out that his greatest ally had pushed the world’s biggest economy into a direct alliance with his enemies.
This time the Europeans, the British and the Americans are united in their entreaties, begging Angela to agree to something Germany failed to achieve in two World Wars. Being a well brought-up lady, Angela had to say ‘nein’ a few times, but now she is beginning to let it be known that her resolve is slipping. She is thus vindicating yet again the wisdom of the old adage that a woman can always be forced to do what she wants to do in the first place.
If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’m sorry – we none of us like conspiracy theories. But that doesn’t mean that perfectly practical conspiracies have never existed. The most horrible century in history, the twentieth, provides multiple examples. What was Komintern if not a conspiracy to deliver Europe (to start with) into the Bolsheviks’ concentration camps? What was Nazism or, for that matter, fascism? Conspiracies we’ve had galore; what has been in short supply is the intelligence to detect them early enough and the resolve to resist them forcefully enough.
I’m not suggesting that the EU represents a Germany-led conspiracy to subvert Europe – only that some of the methods used have been strictly conspiratorial. They certainly haven’t been aboveboard.
Neither Germany nor France came out in 1957 to say that the Treaty of Rome represented but the first step in creating a Europe dominated by the former, with the latter hoping to ride its coattails to a simulacrum of national greatness, long since lost. Neither of them owned up to the true meaning of the Single European Act or the Maastricht Treaty. Neither of them acknowledged the truth of what all halfway intelligent people have been saying since before 1999 when the euro was introduced: that a single currency will mean either an economic disaster or a single state, or eventually both.
What now? Supposing that Frau Merkel’s fickle heart is indeed about to change?
If a single European state becomes a reality, with Germany paying the piper and making the music, the rest of Europe will instantly acquire a focal point for venting its inevitable resentment. If now the Greeks, the Slovaks or the Irish blame their misfortunes on a rather denationalised and therefore nebulous European Union, they will then be able to blame the Germans, which is easier and comes naturally anyway. Whether such emotions will be resolved into violent outcome is impossible to predict. However, it’s highly probable.
Germans, you see, love themselves too much to be loved by others. Respected, admired even – yes, and deservedly so. Loved, no. Disliked, most probably. People in general tend to dislike those whose industry and talents make them prosperous beyond anyone else’s dreams. If such overachievers are insecure enough to rub their superiority in, and especially if they impatiently try to enforce it by violent means, dislike can turn into hatred at the drop of a hat.
The same structural problems that haunt the EU now will eventually destroy it, single state or no single state. The difference is in the timeframe: if the Germans don’t take over immediately and start paying for everybody, the collapse will happen within months. If they do so, it’ll happen within years. In the latter scenario, the federal state will writhe in agony for a while, and there will most probably be blood in the streets.
It’s possible for any country to leave the EU now in a peaceful way. It is, as the USA proved in the 1860s and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, impossible for some provinces to leave a federated state in the absence of universal consensus. A war between sovereign European states is unlikely at present. Yet a civil war between provinces wishing to secede and those dead set on keeping them in is a distinct possibility.
Where does this leave Britain? The wisest thing to do is to leave the EU immediately and let them sort themselves out. The second wisest is to wait until the new political entity is formed and then declare that thereby all existing treaties are invalidated. New treaties have to come into effect, and since such arrangements would have far-reaching constitutional ramifications, the issue has to be put to a national referendum. The stupid and borderline criminal thing to do would be for the government just to go with the flow and pretend that nothing serious has happened.
Which do you think HMG will choose? Don’t bother to answer the question; it’s purely rhetorical.